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Me? Lead? You’ve Got the Wrong Person!

Over the last two weeks, I had the opportunity to lead a training team for a major corporation in Dubai.

As a presentation and communication skills trainer, I’ve led teams in lots of cities here in the states. But now I was taking a team of five people more than 7,800 miles away.

What if something went wrong?

What if I forgot something I really needed?

Those thoughts started filling my mind the minute I left my driveway in Denver for the airport.

I also began to understand that there were four other people on my team, and I was the one in charge of this program. What I was really scared of was failing them and myself.

Then the thoughts in my head changed. I was granted this contract because someone in the company had faith in me, in my team, and in the fact that we could deliver what they wanted.

Now I needed to implement what I knew about being a team leader.

As part of a military unit, you find yourself on teams a lot. Sometimes as a team member being asked for your contributions, and sometimes as a leader, bringing others together for a common goal. You may be in charge of coordinating a community, school, or unit project; you may be a family readiness group leader. It takes courage to be in charge.

Over the past two weeks, here’s what I learned about how to effectively lead a team. Maybe you can pick out a couple of ideas that will encourage you to step up and volunteer.

Here’s what I learned:

1. Remember: you were asked to lead for a reason.

Maybe it’s that you know more about the subject. Maybe people see qualities in you that stand out. Recognize and accept that you have leadership qualities.

2. Be willing to listen.

You are the team’s leader, but everyone else in that group is filled with ideas they would like to share. Present an issue to the group and then listen to what is offered. At this stage, write down every idea. Don’t throw anything out. Then, together, look at each idea and begin to analyze how it will work to solve the issue. Now you can begin to edit down to the most workable few.

3. Don’t be jealous of what other team members do better than you.

This one may seem strange, but it was the one that jumped out for me. When we had team meetings, I would hear that someone had more experience than I did in something, or excelled in a skill or talent that I didn’t necessarily have. I found myself thinking that as the “leader” I should know more about everything than my members! How wrong I was. After all, I selected these people to be on the team because of the special skills they brought. So why was I feeling inadequate in their company? I took time to back away and look at what each person specifically brought to the team, and then made it a point to access those talents. I got out of my self-centered head and looked to what was best for the team.

4. Be the kind of team leader people want to follow.

Don’t be a dictator, but do remember that when push comes to shove, the final decisions rest on your shoulders. Get good at making sure everyone on the team has a voice that is important to producing the best outcome. The true goal is to engage people so you’re all heading in the same direction. You’re in this together. The greatest gift my team gave me was when I was feeling a bit overwhelmed with the project. Their response to me: “Don’t worry about a thing. We’ve got your back.” Now that’s teamwork!


Volunteer to be a leader. It’s a quality that will serve you well, and you’ll probably enjoy it!



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