How to Be a Good Leader
and Create a Winning Team

See also: Effective Team-Working Skills

Startups face a host of problems inherent to their particular type of business structure. However, finding capable leaders and establishing productive, motivated, and thriving teams is a goal shared by both SMEs (small and medium-sized enterprises) and even the biggest corporations.

Indeed, many research reports have determined that having leaders in management positions can bring added benefits beyond the scope of the specific results associated with the current project.

To find candidates with leadership qualities, you need to establish a proper hiring process to identify exceptional job applicants. The same also applies when filling the different roles on your team. Hiring a candidate who is not a good fit can have costly consequences, especially for small businesses or startups who will now have to start the recruitment process all over again.

One essential component of the hiring process that should not be overlooked is conducting DBS checks of the chosen candidates. Background checks can help you discover any potential misinformation that has been presented in the applicant's CV while also uncovering prior convictions or other important facts. Depending on the requirements of certain positions, some candidates may be legally prohibited from being hired.

What Differentiates a Leader from a Boss?

The distinction between being a boss and actually showing leadership has become more and more pronounced over the years. At a basic level, both may seem quite similar as they indeed share a lot of the same responsibilities. They both set the tasks for the team, explain what is expected in terms of results, and manage the process of achieving said results. The differences start to appear in the methods used while guiding the team.

A boss will usually communicate through orders and directives and then wait for the team to act upon them and deliver within the set expectations. While this management style may work in short to mid-term periods, in the long run it will bring increased turnover, frustration among the employees and, in the worst cases, sub-par project outcomes.

On the other hand, leaders foster a positive work environment that allows the different team members to thrive by applying their individual skill sets in the best possible way. Leaders also set the company's culture and values, not by enforcing them but through their everyday behavior. Another crucial aspect is the establishment of rapport between a leader and their team. The manager will frequently communicate with the team members, ask for their opinions and encourage feedback and suggestions, even if they are not always positive.

Becoming a Leader

Turning yourself into a capable leader is a process. You will need to put in continual and conscious effort and work on the aspects that you feel you are currently lacking. Some attributes that leader-style managers often exhibit include:

  1. Facilitating collaboration - being right next to the team members during difficult or problematic stages of the project and showing personal investment in achieving the best possible results.

  2. Knowing your team - each employee has unique traits, interests, skills, and circumstances. Capable leaders take the time to learn all these details and then tailor their approach towards each team member.

  3. Inspiring success - leaders create a positive work environment that celebrates the strengths of each team member, keeps them engaged in their work, and clearly demonstrates the impact of each employee on the way to the successful completion of the project.

  4. Embracing innovation - at the same time, leaders are not only not afraid of taking risks but also actively encourage innovation and try new approaches to tackle both mundane and highly complex problems.

Building a Dream Team

While the importance of a leader cannot be understated, finding and retaining the right employees is even more critical. Apart from possessing the necessary qualifications, prospective hires should also exhibit valuable soft skills that will make them a good fit for the company, its culture, and values. During the interview process, look for candidates who show resourcefulness and resilience. You want to hire people who are ready to face the challenges troubling your company and who have the necessary mental fortitude to take initial setbacks in stride.

Flexibility is another valuable characteristic. Projects tend to shift and change, and even last-minute adjustments are not that uncommon. Employees should be able to quickly move on and focus on the new task in front of them. This brings us to motivation. Ideally, employees should be excited to work for the company because they believe in its mission and products. They should be eager to contribute to the organization's success and not just do the bare minimum to earn the next paycheck.

Finally, look for candidates who can bring additional viewpoints or pitch interesting and innovative ideas. Having a team consisting of distinct individuals could make identifying existing blind spots or homing in on solutions for particular product weak points far easier.

The Importance of Background Checks

Running pre-employment background checks can bring added confidence when it comes to picking the perfect candidate. Through a background check, employers can learn about relevant convicted felons or misdemeanors, judgments, or other details from the person's criminal history, if such exists. Keep in mind that the included information is dependent on the legal regulations of the particular country or state. Having a background check as part of the hiring process will also quickly show any false or misleading information about the applicant's education or previous employment.

A background check may contribute to a safer workplace environment by showing candidates with a propensity for violence or theft. Even non-violent convictions could be a telltale sign of characteristics that employers may wish to avoid in their workers. If the open position is considered to be of critical importance, such as managing large funds or budgets, a background check could help in determining the candidate's suitability for the role. At the same time, failure to properly vet the new hires could lead to increased chances of incurring liabilities or potential legal costs in the event of an incident.

When it comes to performing pre-employment background checks, it is strongly recommended to rely on a professional company with experience in the field. Doing so will ensure compliance with the law and that the used sources are accurate and up to date. Employing a specialized service could also protect you from legal repercussions if a candidate feels that they have been dismissed unfairly during the hiring process.

Further Reading from Skills You Need

The Skills You Need Guide to Leadership

The Skills You Need Guide to Leadership eBooks

Learn more about the skills you need to be an effective leader.

Our eBooks are ideal for new and experienced leaders and are full of easy-to-follow practical information to help you to develop your leadership skills.

About the Author

George Griffiths is the managing director of uCheck. In 2013, George came on board full time with the goal of working together to create a fluid and successful business development structure. His focus for the future is to drive the development of the uCheck  HR Platform and continue to align his way of working with their mission statement — to always care about getting it right.