7 Obstacles That Keep Leaders from Empowering Their Teams

Empowerment is a tricky topic in most workplaces, because it disrupts the normal working dynamics of an organisation. Most employees would prefer more empowerment rather than more structured decision-making. However, many leaders are not willing to work towards this same goal. In this article, I want to explore some of the reasons why leaders aren’t willing to empower their employees.

7 Obstacles That Keep Leaders From Empowering Their Teams

Benefits of Empowered Teams

Benefits of empowerment are clear. When employees are given the freedom to make their own decisions about matters in their jobs, they are able to increase their productivity. Since they will spend less time calling on their superiors to assist them, they can more quickly solve problems on their own with the resources that are given.

Empowered employees are also invested employees. Jobs that are too structured and rigid do not attract employees who want to stay put in their job for long periods of time. When more power is given to the employee to deal with problems that arise, they will be more willing to stay in that job versus looking for other jobs.

Managers and leadership personnel will also be less stressed out in empowered workplaces. Employees who aren’t allowed to make their own decisions will call on their leaders often, even for small problems that could have been solved easily. Instead, leaders over-exert themselves in an attempt to do their normal job responsibilities while also dealing with interruptions from employee problems.

Why Leaders Don’t Empower Their Teams

So, if the benefits are so clear then what stands in the way of employee empowerment? Here are some of the most common obstacles:

1. Laziness

To be fair, it takes a lot of effort to create an environment that promotes employee empowerment. It is not an easy job for leaders in the beginning of the process. This is one of the main reasons that leaders don’t bother with trying to empower employees. It is simply easier not to try something like this that may not necessarily work well and may not be worth the efforts you put into making it happen.

2. Fear of Position Loss

Leaders who are in lower management positions can sometimes fear that if their employees are empowered then they will lose their leadership positions. In theory, if employees can make their own decisions and do more for themselves, management positions could be consolidated or removed entirely.

3. Inconsistency

There are two levels of inconsistency that can occur. First, leaders may be afraid that their employees will make inconsistent decisions that will lead to customer dissatisfaction. If one employee makes the choice to handle a problem one way for a customer, but another employee makes the opposite decision later on, that customer can become very dissatisfied with the service they were provided.
The second instance of inconsistency is when the leader is not consistent enough in their efforts to promote empowerment. It is necessary for leaders to stay the course and not deviate back towards complete hands-on management. If employees can’t be sure that they will remain with the power to make their own decisions, they will be less motivated to stay empowered.

4. Reliance on Programs 

Empowerment programs are not particularly effective for all workplaces, because empowerment needs to be tailored to fit the specific working environment. Leaders who rely on these types of things have probably seen that they are not particularly effective and will be unmotivated to use any sort of empowerment programs again in the future.

5. Lack of Clear Empowerment Goals

Leaders that have different definitions of empowerment than their employees won’t be able to achieve anything substantial. Both employers and employees need to be clear on what sort of empowerment goals they are reaching towards. “Be more empowered” is not a clear enough goal. Instead, “recommend alternative solutions” or “handle small tasks on your own” are clearer goals to reach for.

6. Wrong Perceptions

Sometimes leaders imagine that customers and employees are both conniving and are working against the company. Because of this, they are more hesitant to allow employees to make their own decisions. If the customer tricks the employee, they might make a costly mistake. If the employees are working against the company, they might make decisions that are counter to what’s best for the company. These perceptions prove to be false most of the time, but they do still exist.

7. Working Roles

Employees that are very stuck in the specific roles of their jobs will not be as willing to become empowered. Roles that are highly rigid and structured can keep employees from wanting to go the extra mile or take more steps to get things done on their own.

employee engagement infographic – An infographic by the team at Dale Carnegie Training Employee Engagement Infographic


At the end of the day it all comes down to the culture you foster within the workplace. Getting everyone on board and empowered takes work but it is usually worth it in the end. One strategy is to sit down with your team and establish a team charter that will align the companies goals and values with that of the individual’s goals and values. This helps to set the direction of where the team is heading and reaffirms the reasons why they work for the company in the first place as they need to feel good about the work they are doing and the positive impact it has on the team and the greater community.

Team charters also go a long way specifically outlining each person’s role and what they are responsible for. Remember you have hired these individuals for a reason so let them shine at what they are great at and they will be far more engaged and empowered.

Do Leadership Figures Still Need Mentors?

Mentorship is the kind of word we mostly hear in a corporate context when some older executive wants to take a younger staff member “under their wing” and turn them into something great. This isn’t something every leader thinks about on a regular basis, although it’s actually something that all leaders need to seriously consider.

Do Leaders Need Mentors

The Mentor/Mentee Relationship

Mentors and those who they are mentoring (the “mentee”) both gain from the relationship. The mentor gets to learn new skills such as leadership, counseling, reflectiveness, and listening while the mentee gets the benefit of the wisdom and experience of their mentor. This sounds great, but how does it apply to leaders?

Those in leadership positions do not always consider entering into a mentoring relationship because they may be under the impression that a mentor can only help to guide you to a higher position. This is especially true for leaders who are also entrepreneurs or heads of their department. It’s equally true for those who don’t currently have higher aspirations for their careers.

None of these reasons are good enough to give up on a having a mentor. Every leader should have a mentor!

5 Easy Steps For Finding The Right Business Mentor

From Visually.

– See more at: http://visual.ly/5-easy-steps-finding-right-business-mentor#sthash.0et41Muc.dpuf

What a Leader Stands to Gain from Good Mentorship

Here are a few of the benefits that can come to a leader willing to embrace a mentorship relationship:

  • A new frame of thought

You might be approaching a problem the best way you know how, but what if you had someone to offer you a new way of looking at things that you may not have considered before? This can change everything for you and make the decision clearer.

  • Advice from an older, more experienced source

If you don’t know where to begin in a certain situation or which path to take towards a decision, a mentor can give you their wisdom that comes from years more experience. They are not your peers and have been in the game longer than you have. This can mean they have a lot to offer in the way of advice that comes from a place of experience.

  • Wider networks of connections

Refusing the chance to connect with a lot of others in your industry that may be able to help you find success is a bad move any time. You mentor can offer you a lot more connections than you currently have, as they have been working for decades in their field and have presumably built up a reputation and developed a lot of useful business relationships over the years.

  • Support in many different leadership scenarios

Taking on a hard choice head-on can be difficult no matter what, but it’s much harder if you have no one to support you in that choice. Your mentor can offer you that source of support you need and can be the one that stands with you when you need to make a difficult decision.

  • A chance to bounce around ideas without criticism

When you’re with your peers, you may not be able to throw around ideas that sound crazy or out of the box without receiving a lot of negative feedback and criticism. However, if you have a good mentoring relationship your mentor can talk sensibly with you and discuss your ideas. They won’t be outright critical and dismissive, but can instead talk about why it may or may not be a good move for your career to progress forward.

mentoring quote

Source: etsy.com

Becoming a Mentor

Once you are in a higher position of leadership and further along in your career, you then should consider becoming a mentor to someone else. Just as you will absolutely benefit from having a mentor in any stage of your career, you can also help to benefit someone else’s career by opening yourself up to mentor them.

Every leader should have a mentor throughout at least one significant stage in their career. Then, when they are more experienced themselves, they should become a mentor to someone else.

About Team Building

Total Team Building specialise in teams…we facilitate a range of team building activities that help build team morale, trust, leadership & communication within a team. For more information about how Total Team Building can help you contact us today.

5 Common Mistakes Team Leaders Make

It’s not uncommon to hear people say that everyone makes mistakes. Although this seems to be common knowledge, there is still very little grace for those in positions of leadership who make mistakes on the job. Many mistakes that leaders make are simple issues that could have been handled differently if the leader was more aware ahead of time.

With that in mind, I want to talk about some of the frequent mistakes that are made by team leaders and how you can avoid making them yourself.

5 Common Mistakes That Team Leaders Make

How Mistakes Can Influence Your Leadership

In many circumstances, it’s possible to learn from making mistakes. However, experience can be a hard teacher and a very unforgiving mentor. Taking the wrong steps might be harmless on a number of occasions, but it can also be toxic to your career, your ambitions, and your personal life.

The biggest problem with learning from experience alone is that you may not find out you were making a mistake until it’s been going on for years or it’s too late to change. Maybe you will become a better leader afterwards, but you may have lost an opportunity that you otherwise would have kept if you had avoided that mistake entirely.

Common Mistakes for Team Leaders

My point with this article is to help you avoid some of the most common leadership mistakes by making you aware of them and helping you sidestep the issues as they come. These are the 5 most common mistakes that team leaders make:

1. Making Uninformed Decisions or Emotional Decisions

Decision-making is a logical process in a business environment. Whereas you might base a personal decision off of your emotions or incomplete information, a business decision needs more thought and more energy put into it. When you get information about anything that will influence a decision, it’s best to look for more information on the topic before you actually finalize a decision.

For example, if you are deciding which company trucks to buy you need to consult the drivers, clients, company records, and other sources of information instead of simply talking with the salesperson and finding an option that sounds good from your point of view. Different viewpoints and extra knowledge can help you to make better choices for the good of the company.

Equally as important is to avoid making decisions at work based on your emotions. No one should be hired or fired based on emotions, and no company decisions should be made because of your feelings on the issue. It’s important to make the distinction between values and emotions because while values might make you feel a certain emotion about a situation they will not cause the same rash decision-making as emotions. Think logically and be able to show your team the rationale and reasons behind your choice.


Leaders Making mistakes quote

image source: www.workwithlisawalker.com

2. Completing Unfinished Projects for Yourself


If you’ve delegated a task to your team and they send it back to you unfinished, poorly done, or not quite correct then you need to resist the urge to fix it up on your own. This is okay to do in certain circumstances, such as when a deadline is looming close and there’s no time to spare or if you have given instructions to you want to edit the project before it’s submitted fully.

However, you should not accept work that’s not done correctly or is not finished entirely, unless there has been some communication about it beforehand and you came to and understanding with the employees. When you delegate tasks, you should expect them to be completely properly. If you spend all your time going back over work that your team has done or finished up unfinished projects, you won’t have enough spare time left for your own work.

Part of being a leader is delegating tasks and expecting that work to be done with excellence. Otherwise, you aren’t really leading your team at all.

3. Shying Away from Healthy Conflict

Conflict is a natural part of healthy human interactions. You cannot expect your team to operate at its best if they are not allowed to have conflicts of any kind. The trick is to keep things from getting out of hand and this can be done by creating a culture where healthy conflict is accepted. Allowing healthy conflicts to take place so that employees can express their different viewpoints, opinions and discuss the merits of their ideas over others’ ideas. 

4. Acting without Help Consistently

It’s unhealthy for you to run to a mentor or superior for every decision that must be made, but it’s also a bad choice to act alone on everything. When you need help, seek it out. This helps to set the standard for your employees as well, letting them know that it’s okay to ask for help when necessary in the workplace. No one is perfect!

5. Allowing Too Much Team Autonomy

Autonomous teams are those that can operate on their own without too much supervision. Empowerment is a wonderful thing in most workplaces, but it’s also not something you should expect from every employee unless they have proven themselves. Unfortunately, not everyone on your team is going to be a self-motivated, dedicated worker that will get everything done on time without supervision.

Because of this, it’s a mistake not to check up on progress, get consistent reports, and make sure everything is running smoothly. Don’t expect employees to come to you every time they have problems or to check in and let you know how their work is coming along. Instead, do the legwork and go find out for yourself how your employees are doing.

All leaders make mistakes. They are a part of life. Successful leaders recognize their errors, learn from them, and work to correct their faults. - John C. Maxwell

Recovering from Making a Mistake

Mistakes don’t have to be fatal to your career. If you acknowledge that you made a mistake, take responsibility for it, and learn how to avoid that mistake again in the future then you will be able to recover well and will usually regain employee trust also. On the other hand, acting like it wasn’t a big deal, failing to acknowledge the mistake, or passing on the blame will ruin your standing with employees and will not help you progress past your mistake. Learn how to handle it well when you do mess up.


It’s common to make mistakes, but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t learn about mistakes that are frequently made and try to avoid them for yourself. After all, if you can side-step a puddle in the road, isn’t that better than simply walking through it? Learn from this list of mistakes and pay attention so that you can correct yourself before you make any of these common mistakes.


Team Building helps build better leaders!

Total Team Building specialise in teams…we facilitate a range of team building activities that help build team morale, trust, leadership & communication within a team. For more information about how Total Team Building can help you contact us today.

Raising Up Others: Why Leaders Need to Train Others to Take Their Place

Leadership is not a one size fits all concept that you can slip over every situation. It looks different in many different situations. While there are many principles that apply to leaders in all areas, they must be adapted to fit the specifics of every situation. One principle that is somewhat controversial in some circles is the idea that great leaders train up their replacements – even when they’re not planning on leaving the job.

Why Leaders Need To Train Others to Take Their Place

Developing Others in Leadership

Few people are born into the world of being great leaders, but the majority of people can learn the skills it takes to lead well. However, they will need someone to help them develop those skills. This is where senior leadership staff, fit in. If you have any leadership experience at all, then you have valuable knowledge that can be passed on to the next generation of leaders in your workplace.

Developing leaders means that you’re training those under you to rise into leadership positions. In many cases, you’re training them to do the job you’re currently doing.

A Leader Shows The Way Quote

The Redundancy Argument

A popular argument is usually raised whenever there’s a discussion of training your employees to do your job. The argument is that if you teach someone to do your job, they will be able to replace you and will make you a redundant employee. If there’s another employee capable of doing your job, who won’t ask for as high of a salary, then you may just end up losing your job to the very person you trained.

It’s easy to see where this fear comes from, but it’s actually not founded in proper thinking about leadership. Training up your staff and developing their leadership capabilities does not mean they will replace you, but it does make you infinitely more valuable to your organization and it opens up opportunities for you to move up.

A New Perspective on Leadership Development

Having more employees that are focused on solving problems and accomplishing goals is excellent for any organization. It’s even better if those employees are given the tools they need and are motivated to lead the company to the right solutions. If you as a leader have to dictate everything your staff members should do, then you’re not doing a good job and you are creating a stressful job for yourself.

If you want to be irreplaceable to a company, train your employees to replace you. This will give your company many more qualified, skilled leader’s to drive company progress forward. It will also bring up productivity in the workplace, especially when teams are involved because each person is going to feel more responsible for their own work and will be more willing to contribute positively.

Develop your team by allowing them to think outside of the box and come up with solutions to problems on their own. When you act like a dictator and demand to be in control of every decision that’s made, without accepting input or seeing what your team has to say, then you are creating a stagnant work environment that will not make you look good for promotion or accomplish company goals.


When leaders train their staff to be their replacement by developing leadership skills in the team, they manage to create an exciting, desirable, and productive workplace. You will also make your importance more obvious to the company, even though there are now others who can do your job as well. It’s vital that you take hold of the idea of developing your team to be able to replace you because this is the only way to make a truly successful workplace and a clear forward path upwards for yourself.

Build better leaders Today!

Total Team Building specialise in teams…we facilitate a range of team building activities that help build team morale, trust, leadership & communication within a team. For more information about how Total Team Building can help you contact us today.

What Are The Characteristics of a Natural Leader?

You have probably heard something to the effect of “he/she is a natural leader” during your life, whether they were talking about you or someone else. You have probably also met someone who was naturally good at leadership, but have you ever considered what it is that makes someone a natural leader or not?

Characteristics of Natural Leader

How to Spot a Natural Leader

It’s easy enough to see when someone is a good leader or when they aren’t, but does that mean it comes naturally to them? Not necessarily. There are, however, a few things that can help you spot someone who is a natural leader early on.

It’s easy enough to see when someone is a good leader or when they aren’t, but does that mean it comes naturally to them? Not necessarily. There are, however, a few things that can help you spot someone who is a natural leader early on.

Being able to lead naturally does not mean that the leader knows what they’re doing. In some cases, you can see a person who is naturally surrounded by others who do what they do. They empower people and inspire them, whether it’s intentional or not.

A natural leader is usually the center of a group of people. This doesn’t mean everyone who is the center of their group of friends is a natural leader, but it can be an early indicator. In most cases a natural leader will not be trying to lead, they are just being themselves and following their vision while others choose to go along with them.

You can see in the cases of young people that are naturally gifted leaders that there is usually a streak of rebellion and problems with authority. Natural leaders are not usually good at following others, they are more interested in pursuing what they think is a good idea and a better way of doing things.

Leadership Quote

Are Natural Leaders Aware of Their Leadership Talents?

It’s not very common that a natural leader will see themselves as such until they grow a bit older. When someone is young they may just assume that this is how people are and that they are the same as everyone else. However, as they grow older and learn more about the world they will become more aware of their talents in leading others.

Some people are aware that they are natural leaders early on, but for most people they don’t really know they are inspiring others and leading people right away. Since they are just being themselves and not trying to be the leader, it doesn’t necessarily occur to them that they are being leaders. When something comes naturally, we don’t always recognize it for what it is until others point it out to us.

Characteristics of a Natural Leader

So, what exactly makes someone a naturally good leader? Everyone is different, of course, but these are the main traits that define natural leadership abilities:

Personality Traits

  • Extrovert
    Being talkative and likeable makes you easier to follow. It helps people relate to you on a more personal level, which is always great for leadership.
  • Thick Skinned
    Everyone in the world has their own opinions and some of them might be about you. Most natural leaders can let negative words and opinions roll off of them without trouble.
  • Confident
    Confidence is one trait that nearly all natural leaders possess because a leader without confidence cannot inspire confidence in those who are following them.
  • High Emotional Intelligence (Empathy)
    Being able to understand the way others are feeling and empathize with them helps someone to become a more trusted and liked leader.
  • Hard Working
    You’ll almost never see a lazy person in a naturally given leadership position. If they aren’t hard working, most people won’t be as willing to follow after them. For a short time maybe, but not in the long term.
  • Open Minded
    Some leaders are closed minded and closed off, but not in the beginning. Most people who are natural born leaders have a very open mind compared to the average person and are willing to accept different ideas.
  • Observant
    Observation is a key to getting to know people and see what’s going on all around you. If someone cannot properly observe what’s going on, they cannot make good decisions and will not be able to lead as well.
  • Energetic
    Have you ever met someone you would say is a natural leader that doesn’t have a certain energy level to keep going and pursuing their passions? It’s common for leaders to have high energy levels.

Learned Traits

  • Strategic Thinking
    You don’t have to start out as a strategic thinker, but many natural leaders learn to become more strategic as they come into their leadership abilities.
  • Decisive
    Observing the environment is one thing, but natural leaders usually learn very quickly how to make a decision based on what they see.
  • Good Communication
    When natural leaders are young they might not understand the value of communication, but as they grow older it’s a somewhat naturally learned trait as they figure out that people are more willing to follow someone who can communicate with them more clearly.
  • Wise
    Wisdom doesn’t come to the young, but as a natural leader grows up and starts to understand their role they will pick up wisdom along the way.
  • Loyal
    Young leaders can have traces of loyalty, but you have to learn loyalty by facing situations that test it.
  • Inclusive
    It’s difficult for younger leaders to focus on including others. However, many natural leaders pick up this trait as they go on.

Natural Leaders Are Born, Not Made

There’s an adage that says “Leaders are not born; they’re made”. This may be true for the most part, but natural leaders actually are born that way. The catch is that just because someone is a natural leader does not mean they will be a good leader, a proud leader, or a useful leader.

Leaders Can Be Made

Natural leadership is a gift that not many have, and it can be of great use to those who embrace it and learn how to polish that skill. In the end, leadership is a skill. Those born with the natural traits of a good leader can go on to be great leaders with knowledge and practice, but others can also learn to be good leaders by embracing the right training and acquiring the necessary knowledge.

Whether leadership is natural to you or not, you can still become a good leader.

Team Building helps build better leaders!

Total Team Building specialise in teams…we facilitate a range of team building activities that help build team morale, trust, leadership & communication within a team. For more information about how Total Team Building can help you contact us today.

Are Leaders Responsible for Motivating Team Members?

Team leaders have a lot of responsibilities placed on their shoulders. They are the ones who are tasked with making sure a team works well and gets their goals accomplished. Many things are involved in that process, but is the task of motivating team members a part of a leader’s role? Or, is it something that the individuals themselves are responsible for? What do you think?

Motivating Team Members

Before we answer that, lets start by defining what motivation is.


The dictionary definition of motivation is “the act or an instance of motivating, or providing with a reason to act in a certain way”. What this means in simpler terms is that motivation is a force which causes someone to do something specific. It can be negative or positive.

Negative motivators are circumstances where something bad will happen if the person does not act in a specific way or accomplish something specific. Positive motivators are the opposite, where something beneficial will happen if the person does a certain thing.

Motivation comes in different forms for everyone. There is a high likelihood that everyone on a team is motivated by a different force to get their work done.


This brings us to an interesting place in the discussion. Are leaders actually capable of motivating people on their teams? There are differing opinions on this subject, but the most convincing argument is this: leaders cannot motivate team members. “All motivation is self motivation” is a common phrase passed around that proves true over and over again. The nature of motivation means that no one can actually make another person motivated.

HOWEVER, leaders aren’t off the hook just yet. Although a leader isn’t able to directly motivate someone, they can create the circumstances and the working environment that will promote self-motivation.

what is motivation



How can a leader create a teamwork environment that will be motivating to team members? Here are the things that are necessary if employees are going to get motivated:

1. Clear Goals

Without a clear end goal in mind, no team members will be able to become motivated. The only reason that people can work together is if they know they are all working to get somewhere. If there isn’t a clear and visible goal in sight for the team, there will be no cohesion and no motivation to work as a proper team.

2. Individually Understood Roles

Teammates need to know that they all have their own individual roles in the same team if they’re going to be working together. Roles that are ambiguous and unclear can be thought of as unnecessary. Employees cannot feel motivated if they don’t believe they are contributing to the team as a whole.

3. Build Better Relationships And Get To Know Them Better

Having a deeper understanding of how someone thinks and a better insight into that person and their background is key to creating a motivating environment. Knowing whether an individual is more inclined to be motivated by positive or negative motivators allows a leader to tailor his or her approach to get the best out of that individual.

4. Proper Compensation

Motivation isn’t only compensation, but without compensation that’s adequate it will be difficult for employees to feel like they are getting what they deserve for a job well done. If the compensation is not equal to the work being done, motivation will be hard to find.

5. Respect

Respect should be shown not only between employees and team leaders, but everyone on the team. This means that all team members should be showing each other respect. If a culture of respect isn’t present in your team and team members treat each other poorly they will start to lose all their motivation.

6. Create A Fun, Happy & Positive Culture

Create an environment where employees love coming to work because they enjoy the fun, happy and positive culture. Regular team building and social get-togethers will allow staff to bond on more of a personal level, thus creating deeper and more meaningful and positive working relationships.


In Summary

Individual motivation is not the direct responsibility of a leader, but creating an environment in which employees can become motivated is absolutely part of being a leader.

Team Building helps build better teams!

Total Team Building specialise in teams…we facilitate a range of team building activities that help build team morale, trust, leadership & communication within a team. For more information about how Total Team Building can help you contact us today.

Leadership is a Skill: How to Practice Leading People

Over the years it has been discovered and proved that leadership is not only for those born with a certain set of prime characteristics. Leaders rely on influence over those placed under their order, rather than relying on the authority given to them from whatever source.

Because influence is something we can have an effect on with our words and actions, leadership can also be affected by what we do. If you want to become a better leader, whether you’re in a leadership position now or not, what can you do to improve those skills?

Managers vs Leaders: Is There a Difference?

Leading people by developing leadership skills

Most Leaders Are Made, Not Born

It’s rare that you find anyone who is good at leadership from a young age and into their later years. Even if you do find someone like that, it’s often necessary for them to be trained in leadership skills to become an excellent leader.

Many leaders you see today have been training in leadership skills for years. CEOs, Presidents, politicians, military leaders, etc. All of these positions are trained in leadership at some point to build on what they already know and make them into leaders that are truly up to the task of handling the positions of power they hold.

No matter how good someone is at leading people naturally, they can always improve with training. Similarly, even if you are bad at leading currently you can also become better at it by purposefully practicing skills that are used every day in leadership situations.

Should a Leader Allow Employees to Fail in Order to Learn?

 How to Practice Leadership Skills

What skills are needed to be an effective leader? Here are some main skills and how you can practice in your daily life at work or in social situations:

  1. Initiative

Going out of your way to take on new assignments and get stuff done without being asked can help you to be more comfortable with taking initiative. This is something leaders do frequently when working on any projects. The ability to get things done is very important for a leader.

  1. Motivational Skills

It’s not directly your job to motivate your employees, but you need to create an atmosphere that will provide motivation to those who are looking for it. All motivation is self-motivation. You cannot force someone to become motivated, but you can put the circumstances in place that will bring more motivation to your followers.

  1. Problem Solving

Critical thinking and the ability to solve problems with innovative and creative solutions is an invaluable leadership skill. You can practice this at work by thinking deeply about a task that you have to do and deciding on at least 3 – 5 ways it could be done other than the way you’re currently doing it.

  1. Listening

Hearing and understanding what people are saying to you is vital to making a proper decision and meeting the needs of the people you are leading. Don’t just let your ears hear what people are saying to you; really focus on what they are telling you and learn whatever you can from the encounter. Learning to listen well will give you more sources for ideas, a better feel of what your subordinates need, and a more loyal staff.

  1. Self-Discipline

Leading requires you to hold yourself to a higher standard than those under you. It’s not wise to ask your followers to do something you are not already doing or willing to do (if you have the skills to do the task, that is.). Practice discipline by keeping a schedule in your personal life or being committed to doing a few specific things well and often. For example, you can practice self-discipline by starting a morning exercise routine and sticking to it without fail., thick or thin.

  1. Giving and Accepting Assistance

Leaders need to learn to delegate tasks. If you’re not currently a leader, you can practice this by asking for help and being willing to help others with their issues.

  1. Conflict Resolution

Not only should you learn to keep yourself away from unnecessary conflicts, you need to develop the skill of resolving conflicts between others or between yourself and another. Learn methods of resolving conflicts through healthy communications and critical thinking.

  1. Constant Learning

Leaders who do not learn as they go will not be good leaders. If you want to be as competitive as possible, you need to constantly be on the top of your game and in touch with new information that’s coming out in your industry. Don’t stop reading and trying to learn!

How Can Leadership Create and Encourage Teamwork?


Leadership is a skill that is composed of many smaller skills. If you practice and improve these smaller skills, you will improve your overall ability to lead others.

Take the time to learn about what you need to be able to do to lead well and practice those things. If not, you won’t be able to reach your full leadership potential!

Are You Leading People?… Team Building helps foster a learning environment where you can practice your leadership skills?

Total Team Building specialise in teams…we facilitate a range of fun based team building activities that can help build essential leadership skills that can assist your delegates in leading people. For more information about how Total Team Building can help you contact us today.

Should a Leader Allow Employees to Fail in Order to Learn?

Learning through failure is a tricky topic in business. Arguments can be made for and against this type of learning in a business environment. Let’s take a look at both sides of the coin and see what can be gained or lost from learning through failure, and how to implement a failure-tolerant culture in your business.

Should A Leader Allow Employees To Fail

What Is The Purpose Of Failure In Business?

Failure is a great teacher. It helps us to see a personal example of what not to do and to learn more quickly than we otherwise would have. In organizations where employees are not allowed to fail at any point, fewer risks are taken and people tend to stay within their comfort zones. In certain industries this may be okay, but in most modern businesses risks are necessary for the company to stay competitive.

If employees are not allowed to make mistakes or to fail at anything, they will be unwilling to try new ways of working that would possibly make the business more competitive.

Advantages & Disadvantages Of Learning Through Failure

These are a few of the ways your business can thrive in a failure-accepting culture and some of the risks of allowing employees to fail.


  • Experience is a better teacher than words
  • Taking risks can turn out amazing results
  • Failure opens up other options to find a solution
  • Hands-off management encourages employee growth and self-supervision
  • Without failures, there can be no meaningful growth
  • Risks stretch a person’s comfort zone


  • Failure in certain areas of the business can jeopardise your company
  • Mistakes might add up and become costly to the organization

Making Mistakes is a good teacher Quote

Determining When Failure Is Acceptable

It is the leader’s responsibility to make sure employees cannot cause catastrophic damage to the business when they fail. This means that you will have to limit the areas in which your employees are allowed to take certain types of risks. Big risks shouldn’t ever happen in client relations or general corporate actions without executive leadership being involved to advice and implement.

On the other hand, team projects and individual projects are usually a good place to encourage your team to take some risks and try new strategies to get the work done more effectively. If they fail in these areas, the team will be there to assist in fixing that mistake and finding a new way to accomplish the task.

As a general rule for your team, it’s a good idea not to allow employees to take large risks on projects that could end up causing irreparable damage or being too costly to the company if a mistake did occur. Smaller projects are a great place for risks, as the damages caused are usually fixable and not very costly to the company.

If you are not failing you are not growing quote

Allowing Employees To Make Mistakes

Although it’s a great idea for leaders to allow learning through failure, there should be some clearly understood guidelines. If you don’t have guidelines laid out for your employees, they may become careless with their risk-taking and make unnecessary mistakes in the course of business as usual. Here are a few pointers about guidelines for learning by failure:

  1. Don’t tolerate the same mistakes made twice

It’s okay for employees to make mistakes; we now know this. However, you shouldn’t allow employees to make the same mistakes twice. It’s acceptable to make a mistake, but it’s expected that failure should cause that employee to learn and to avoid making that same mistake again. If that learning does not occur, there will be problems in allowing that employee to take risks again.

  1. Look for employees to learn from, own, and fix their mistakes

Ideally you should encourage this cycle with risk-taking: learn from, own, fix, and safeguard. This means that employees should learn from any mistakes they make, own up to what they did wrong, fix the consequences of their failure, and put in proper safeguards to ensure that mistake does not get repeated. This is a great guideline for employees about the best process for learning through failure.

  1. Supervision without intervention

As a leader, you will have to learn how to supervise what your employees are doing without stepping in to intervene if you think they are wrong. Again, this applies only to the situations in which risk is acceptable and allowed, not in more risk adverse situations. If your employees come to you for advice on the matter, you can intervene then and show them the problems you have seen. Otherwise, exercise restraint and allow that employee to fail if necessary in order to allow them to learn from their mistakes.

  1. Encourage risks, allow mistakes

It’s important to differentiate between encouraging mistakes and allowing mistakes. You should make it known that mistakes happen to everyone and are acceptable, but that it is not encouraged to make mistakes. Instead, encourage employees to stretch themselves, try new options, and take risks in their work where it is acceptable. If these actions result in failure, so be it.

Implementing A Failure Policy With Employees

If you want to create an environment where employees are able to learn from their failures, you must be willing to communicate this to them directly. Before people will be willing to stretch themselves and take risks, they have to know it’s acceptable and won’t be punished. Lay out the guidelines you decide on, challenge your employees to take risks, and stay true to your word on your stance about failure in the business.


About Total Team Building

Total Team Building specialise in teams…we facilitate fun and engaging team building activities designed to enhance teamwork, team culture, leadership, communication and collaboration. For more information about how Total Team Building can help you and your learn from failure contact us today.

Managers vs Leaders: Is There a Difference?

Running a Team: Managers Versus Leaders

The terms “manager” and “leader” used to be used interchangeably; however, in more recent years a difference in usage has developed for those separate terms. Managers are said to be responsible for maintaining operations, organising, and controlling short-term administrative duties. Leaders, on the other hand, are those who motivate people, think long term, and create new innovations by not following the status quo.

What separates these two roles in a team? Can a single person act as both of these? Here are a few of the main things that separate leaders and managers:

Managers vs Leaders Is There A Difference

What Are The Differences Between a Manager And a Leader? 

These listed differences are based off of general usage of the two terms in a business context and are not specific to any industry, organisation, or type of team.

  1. Managers are not necessarily responsible for the vision and goals of a team.

The main purpose of a managerial position is to maintain the current best practices in an organisation. This means that managers don’t have as much freedom to deviate based on what they believe are the best goals for the team. Leaders are the ones who sit down and think ahead to develop a vision for the team as well as goals to be reached by the team. These will be passed on to management to implement in most cases.

  1. Leaders tend to make individual plans rather than implementing those given to them.

A team leader has more control over what the team should be doing at any given time. Rather than taking plans from higher bosses and using those for their team, they will be the ones figuring out what the best course of action is and delegating tasks to team members.

  1. Managers are more reactive, leaders are proactive

Managers are in place to look at what’s going on in the business and choose the best response from their training and guidance. Leaders are expected to look ahead and change direction to navigate around any incoming obstacles.

  1. Leaders are required to problem solve, managers report problems or use set solutions.

Similarly to point number 3, good leaders require the ability to problem solve. They have to be able to adapt and adjust to the dynamic environment around them in order to find the absolute best way to solve a problem. Managers are more likely to be the ones who are reporting issues they are seeing and asking for a way to continue forward with solving the problem. This is partially because a manager may not have the same freedoms that a leader does in the way the team should be led.

  1. Managers choose the best strategy to use, leaders create new business strategies.

As a manager, you are trained in business strategy and taught about which responses are most appropriate for different situations. You do not necessarily come up with the strategy, but you are the one who is tasked with making sure it is implemented and followed. Leaders are those who will be taking the time to study the external and internal environments around the business and deciding in what ways the team can act in order to reach the goals most effectively.

  1. Leaders are knowledgeable in many areas, managers specialise in one or two.

Specialisation can be a big advantage for managers as they are mainly concerned with a few specific functions of the team. Leaders have to have a broader knowledge of all aspects of the team and the organisation as well as the industry so that they can perform their expected duties with excellence.

Managers vs Leaders Infographic

Your Leadership Style 

As an authority figure over your team, you have to periodically ask yourself this question: are you a leader or a manager? You don’t necessarily have to fit into all of the normal roles of either and can easily adapt characteristics of both a leader and a manager at different points in your career and depending on the needs of your team.

Leadership is not a static thing. It must be fluid and ever-changing as the circumstances of your business change. Learn to take on the necessary traits of both a manager and a leader whenever they are needed so that you can bring the best out of your team at all times.



About Total Team Building

Total Team Building specialise in teams…we facilitate fun engaging experiential team building activities designed to enhance leadership, communication and collaboration. For more information about how Total Team Building can help you and your team contact us today.

5 Keys To Unlocking Team Performance

Do you have what it takes to lead your team to success? Managing teams is often one of the most difficult parts of holding a leadership position in your workplace. How can you create a successful team and then achieve your business goals together?

Almost any team can be shaped into a successful team through time and effort of the leader. If you have an underperforming team that you want to improve, a new and untested team, or an average team under your direction, try using these 5 best practices to guide your existing team to higher performance levels:

Team Performance


1. Make Responsible Goals – Then Share

How can a team be expected to do the right work and make forward progress for the company when they don’t even know where the company wants to go? If higher up, corporate goals are unknown to employees, or if those goals seem completely disconnected to what the employee does every day at work, performance will not be at its highest.

To improve performance, you have to let your team in on what the corporate goals are for the organisation and show them how their individual work contributes to that goal. Without this link, employees can engage in work activities which are unrelated to the company goals or lose their motivation based on a lack of knowledge about how they are helping to advance the company.

For this to work out properly, you will have to get feedback from your team about the daily goals they will be working towards. Are the goals useful for meeting objectives? What might be a better way to do it? Does this metric accurately reflect on the work activities done by employees? Answers to all of these questions get your team thinking about how they can help reach business goals and provide a source of motivation, as the team is now completely aware of how they are contributing.

Avoid vague goals such as “do the best work you can”. The American Psychological Association found in a study that employees who are given such types of goals generally do not perform as well as those given specific and challenging goals.

2. Balance Supervision and Self-Management

Balance Supervision and Self Management

Micro management of your team is a mistake many leaders make when the team is new or when the team is underperforming. Unfortunately, this usually leads to lower performance levels and does nothing to improve the team overall. Pay attention to how your team members work and ask yourself this question: how much autonomy can I provide this team?

Teams made up of self-motivated employees need little to no supervision as long as your give clear direction about what they should accomplish. However, teams with employees that are not self-motivated will require more supervision of daily activities to make sure that goals are being met.

Creating a system of accountability will encourage team members to keep track of their own progress without falling behind on work. If employees are each accountable for what they accomplish during the day and what they add to the overall goals, they are more likely to work well on their own without you having to spend your time checking up on everything your team is doing.

3. Build Trust with Your Team

Teams with higher levels of trust for management and leadership figures are more likely to perform well and to have a more positive impression of the company in general, says a study published by Delft University in The Netherlands. While it’s sometimes hard to see the impact of great leadership, it will show up in the successes of the team. If your employees don’t trust you to make good decisions, to think about their well-being, and to lead fairly and responsibly, they will not give all their efforts to your team projects.

Many team programs focus on building trust between employees without paying much attention to how trusted the manager of the team is! This is an oversight which might end up costing you a lot in the form of wasted time, missed goals, and general team lethargy.

4. Acknowledge Individual and Team Efforts

acknowledge team successWhen your team members put forth great effort in order to reach a goal, it’s worth recognizing their actions. If you fail to show your employees that you are appreciative of their hard work, they will be much less motivated to work hard in the future.

Imagine if employee X and employee Y are on a work team together. Employee X is a hard worker that usually has to pick up the slack for underperforming team members and do extra work in order for the team to accomplish daily goals. Employee Y is an average employee that sometimes underperforms, but usually does nothing more than what is absolutely necessary. If you acknowledge the team’s success as a whole and do never recognize individual contributions, you are subjecting employee X to feelings of frustration and bitterness, as their extra effort seems worthless.

5. Show a Great Example

You as the team leader are the one whom all team members are looking towards for guidance on how to participate in the team. If you are not doing your part or are showing poor working behaviors and a lack of respect for the organisation than many of your team members will follow suit. However, if you are a hard worker and you are modeling good employee behavior, then you will lead your team to follow that positive working example instead.

Applying Team Performance Strategies To Your Own Team

Just as no two people are exactly alike, no team will ever be the same as another. When you are applying these performance improvement strategies, you must be conscious of how they are affecting your team so that you can adjust them to fit your needs more realistically. Don’t be too static and stuck on one way of doing things, or else you may risk ruining team performance and morale even more!

For more information about how Total Team Building can help you and your team contact us today.