WORKPLACE SUCCESS / 30 July 2019How to Deal with a Toxic Work Environment
Being a leader is not an easy task. Leading your peers is even tougher. To lead a team of peers, you must possess all the characteristics of a great leader… and then some. Below are some tips you will need to be a great peer leader:
1. Have a Positive Attitude
The easiest and conversely the most difficult skill necessary to be a peer leader is to have a positive attitude. Misery loves company, and so does positivity. Your team of peers will react to your attitude and the way you approach tasks will influence those around you. By looking at tasks as opportunities rather than challenges and seeing the potential in your peers instead of the flaws, you will attract people with a common attitude. John Maxwell, an American Author once said,
“If you want to gain influence and credibility with people working alongside you, then don’t try to take shortcuts or cheat the process.”
Influence is crucial when leading a team. Not only will your peers be attracted to you as a leader but having a positive attitude will change the work environment. When there is a good work environment then more productivity will take place. Positional authority is not a factor, the best way to lead is through positive influence.
2. Have a Little Perspective
Perspective is crucial when leading a group of peers. Being in a position that allows you to make strategic suggestions for your team and look out for the better of the group is paramount to becoming a respected leader. The bottom line is don’t be selfish, forget yourself and succeed together.
For companies and businesses, the success of the entire team is far more applauded than the success of an individual. One of the greatest things about being part of a team is the diversity of the team. We all come from different backgrounds and have had different experiences. The experiences that your team members have will bring new ideas and solutions to the company and for the products you work with.Not only do you have to have a little perspective but you need to be humble. Stuart Ridge, a Marketing Manager from Vitamedica says,
“One of the most important soft skills of a good leader is humility, and this is especially true when leading a team of your peers. You may be a natural leader, but this does not mean that you have all of the answers. Use your team as a whole and rely on their individual skills and attributes; this will not only improve your performance as a team, but it will build trust and support among your peers.”
It can be difficult at times to have perspective and listen to what your peers have to say. These skills won’t come right away but there are some things you can implement every day to improve and gain trust from your peers.
3. Spread Confidence, Not Gossip
Make your team feel good about their work. As a peer, you can relate to your members and as a leader, you can speak up! Empowering your team by spreading confidence can be very motivational. Leaders who use their authority to help their teams accomplish great things, foster members who want to work harder for them. And don’t forget to give praise and recognition when it’s due.
Instilling confidence in your team means giving and gaining trust. It is important to stay true to yourself and stay out of the office gossip. Engaging in small talk is a guaranteed way to lose influence among peers. Be a diplomat with your team, not a dictator.
Another way to build trust and lead your peers effectively is by building their confidence in your abilities. Andrew Rawson from Traliant says,
One of the most important skills in being a successful peer leader is to master your job. If a peer leader is not proficient at their own job how can they lead their peers? In order to have any credibility with your peers, they have to be able to trust you. In order to gain that trust, you have to be confident and competent in your own work.
4. Lead as a Friend
It can be a difficult transition from being in a group of peers who might complain about their bosses every once in a while, to now being a boss and leading the group. It will be awkward but Halelly Azulay, Founder of TalentGrow mentions that the best way to transition is to acknowledge upfront the “elephant in the room” by letting your peers know that,
“It’s a bit awkward to be in this new relationship and that you know it’s a new situation that both of you need to adjust to. Explain that you want to have a clean and clear start with everyone knowing what to expect and encouraging open and ongoing communication. Express your appreciation and ask for their input."
Halelly goes on to recommend that you explain that you might need to set some boundaries if you were very close friends previously. You can absolutely continue being friends, but you’ll need to ensure that you’re not playing favorites or allowing there to be any such misperceptions by other team members.
Use discretion when it comes to rules and regulations. Learn to lead with a level of leadership that won’t cause resentment or non-compliance. Leading peers means leading as an equal. You and I both know that admitting our faults can be difficult but it is important to put away your pride and ask for advice, learn from your team, worry less about what others think and admit your faults. John Maxwell also said,
“Since nobody is perfect- not you, not your peers, not your boss- we need to quit pretending. People who are real, who are genuine concerning their weaknesses as well as their strengths, draw others to them.”
Demonstrating leadership does in no way mean making a show of your authority. Be smart and take actions that establish your integrity and credibility.
Leading a team of peers is no easy feat. It puts every last bit of your leadership skills to the test. However, if you have perspective, passion, and a positive attitude, you will demonstrate to them that you believe in the value of their work. If you employ these skills into your leadership strategy, your team will work as a more cooperative unit both with and for you.