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The Building Blocks of Leadership

These days, most tasks call for a cross-functional or/and collaborative approach in order to get the best results. Team work is common in most organizations, but it can be tricky building a team with the right combined knowledge and expertise. Also, creating an effective team requires genuine leadership skills that all too few people possess.

Before you decide on who will be part of your team, you need to spend time deciding on the structure of the team as well as what are the traits you are looking for in that particular role. Then, you can decide what team members best align with those characteristics. Once your team is assembled, make sure everyone understands what their individual role is and what their role is as part of the team. Finally make clear the goal of the team in a way that everyone is clear on what is the objective.

Tips for team leadership

This article won’t turn you into a great team leader: only you can do that. What it will do is to give you a few pointers that will help you along the way. Below are some areas to consider.

Scope: differentiate between general team building and specific aims for projects for which you will need a dedicated team. Of course, depending on the size of the team this may not be mutually exclusive.

Communicate Vision: communicate effectively with members of your team and let them know the importance of their role in the whole project. They also need to know how the project relates to the overall objectives of the organization.

Motivation: Motivate both, yourself and your team. This is more effective coming from a trusted individual. Let them know that you appreciate them. Bring coffee in the morning if your team had a late night working. Provide positive feedback when you witness hard work and dedication.

Confidence: the team members and the whole team itself, need to feel empowered to make decisions – within certain parameters off course. Don’t micromanage, unless the team member is struggling. Encourage your team to take initiative.

Courage: this rare trait is a valuable attribute that you must personally exhibit, you must be willing to stand alone at time and against all odds if you believe what you are doing is right for your team, sometimes going against what may be “best” for you as a leader. You must be willing to stand up for your team to other leaders, these traits are tough for many people to consistently exhibit. This Moral courage I speak of is something you must develop in yourself and also develop and encourage in others.

Creativity: outside the box thinking can be a great asset in your team. Rather than feel threatened by a new way of completing a goal, you should encourage it. Just don’t allow the “thought process” to cause paralysis to overall progress. As General Patton once said “Never tell people how to do things. Tell them what to do and they will surprise you with their ingenuity.”

Metrics: It is crucial that you have some tool by which to measure the

performance of your team. If your environment has a “human component” to it such as working with human being in a therapeutic environment you need to find a way to factor in the time that you spend with the clients and things such as the progress a given case has made. You can’t solely measure billable hours because billable hours only tell part of the story. This is where I believe many ABA companies are making a mistake in their way of evaluating BCBA’s and RBT’s. Provide measurable feedback often and not just when the employee is struggling.

Laugh: Life is too short to spend a minimum of 35 hours a week in the company of miserable, downtrodden colleagues. You’re the leader so inject some fun into the day. (Attitude reflects leadership)


It’s important that you promote an understanding of the structure you’ve put together. Tell your team what role each person has, and they will understand why you’ve chosen to include them, and what they can add to the process. But more importantly once your teams are assembled allow them some flexibility to decide how they arrive at the agreed upon destination. Allow your teams to surprise you with their ingenuity and creativity. And then praise that and encourage more progress.