How to Step Up as a Leader When the Team Has No Direction

 When a team needs to accomplish a task but there's no established leadership, aligning around a common goal can feel a lot like herding cats. If you find yourself in a group with little direction or ownership, you can step up to guide your team by adopting these seven principles, as illustrated by Zac Halbert.

Guiding a Leader-less Team

  1. Begin by making positive assumptions about the team. Believe that they are just as committed, intelligent, and motivated as you are. This will start your relationship off on the right foot as you get to know each other.
  2. Set realistic goals, and put trust in your team to reach them. Under-promise and over-deliver to stakeholders, and be a resolute decision maker by seeking consent instead of consensus.
  3. Be the eternal optimist of the group whose sole purpose is to continue pushing the team forward to the end goal. Don’t indulge negativity, complaints, or excuses.
  4. Set up proper expectations for both your team and stakeholders by openly discussing deadlines, blockers, and progress updates. Over-communicating is key.
  5. Lead by example. Hold yourself to the same expectations as you have for the team. Work hard, accept critiques, and volunteer to do the work no one else wants. Being a team player will encourage everyone else to be one as well.
  6. Encourage ownership. To prevent only the “creatives” from being responsible for innovating, encourage each teammate to take ownership and share ideas at every meeting.
  7. Congratulate publicly. A team member had a great idea? Celebrate! Your team reached their end goal? Throw a party!

Takeaway: Leading a group of individuals who prefer making their own decisions can be the true test of a new leader, but hard work and a positive attitude can win them over.


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