5 Leadership secrets if you are struggling to get your team working together

May 11, 2017
Tip No. 1: Your team needs a leader, not a buddy. Tip No. 2: Set your vision.  Tip No. 3: Be the example.  Tip No. 4: Teach.  Tip No. 5: Set expectations (but leave some wiggle room).   
Image: iStock/ThinkStock.

Most contractors didn’t get into the business after achieving a graduate degree in leadership. Most contractors learned from the ground up, entering the trade and learning to work from a family member or employer who had been in the business. 

As a result, most contractors learn sometimes less-than-perfect leadership skills from the people they learned from, they get frustrated when building their own teams — only to pass on those same less-than-perfect leadership skills to the next generation of contractors.

If you have a team, and if your team sometimes frustrates you because they don’t do what they’re supposed to do (or they don’t do it in the way you want them to) then this article will give you five leadership secrets that you need to know to help you lead your team.

Tip No. 1: Your team needs a leader, not a buddy. Some contractors take the “buddy approach” to leadership, choosing to try and befriend their employees. However, this only works when things are going well. As soon as you need to ask your employee to do something difficult, or if you have to teach, reprimand, or even fire that employee, the buddy system actually hurts your ability to be the boss.

So, stop being their buddy. You can be friendly and approachable, but you need to be a leader. Your employees need a leader. They need someone to look to, to lead them.

Tip No. 2: Set your vision. Employees naturally follow strong leaders. And the strongest leaders are those with a strong vision who share that vision with their team and get everyone on board and working together to see that vision come true.

This is where a lot of leaders fall down — because they may establish a vision for the company but they never share it with their team. Let your team know the vision and remind them of it daily, and help them see how they are part of that vision too.

Tip No. 3: Be the example. You may have hired your team to help pick up the slack and even to take on some of the grunt-work, to free up your time for more in-office work like marketing and sales, but the best leaders are those who are willing and able step in and do anything needed. Think of it as the difference between leading from the front versus directing from behind.

It’s okay that you’re spending more time in the office; but your employees need to see that you aren’t afraid to get your hands dirty (and that you love doing it!) when needed.

Tip No. 4: Teach. One way to establish and reinforce the leader/employee relationship is to teach your team. Don’t rely on their previous experience and don’t leave them to flounder on their own. Teach them, train them, coach them, mentor them. Help them become better daily. You’ll not only create a strong leadership position for yourself, you’ll also help to create strong followers, which will raise the bar on your company.

Train your employees in their own trades and skills, cross-train them in other trades and skills, train them in soft-skills like rapport, empathy and selling. Don’t forget to remind them of the value of training, so they come to value their education and ask to be taught.

Tip No. 5: Set expectations (but leave some wiggle room). Your team needs to have clear expectations set for them to ensure that they show up on time, complete their work as required, and give their very best all the time. You should expect nothing less than the best from your team at all times. However, it’s important to remember that not everyone will complete a job in exactly the same way. As long as your team gets the job done to code and specifications, and does so in a timely manner, you may want to give them a bit of space to do the work in their own way (of course as long as it is safe and ethical).

This is the difference between managing and micromanaging. And, if you also train them and act as an example, then you won’t need to tell them how to do something because you will have shown them how to do it.

Summary: Contractors face an uphill battle when they take on their own teams. That’s because most contractors didn’t necessarily learn the best leadership skills while learning their trade, they may have picked up bad leadership habits from their leaders. But if you follow these five tips, you’ll create a strong team that gets the job done with excellence, while also creating a team of future leaders.

Mike Agugliaro is the “Business Warrior” and founder of CEO Warrior, a business consulting and mentoring firm, providing tested and proven methods to defeat the roadblocks that prevent small to mid-sized businesses from achieving their ultimate success. He has played a key role in building Gold Medal Services’ success, as co-owner of the company. For more information about CEO Warrior, visit

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