5 ways to build an effective team

By Suzana Aroko

In many organisations at all levels, it is common to hear comments such as: “We must achieve our goals!” or, “We want to improve results!” The question comes relating to “How?” Effective leadership – along with people and resources ‒ undoubtedly plays a vital role. Building teams of any size to deliver success relies upon strong leadership. Drawing upon UONGOZI Institute’s training and research experience, five key skills form part of effective leadership for team building: Applying Emotional Intelligence; Building trust and respect; Listening to everyone; Giving and receiving feedback; and Taking time for reflection. 

Applying Emotional Intelligence

During a two-week leadership retreat for the senior officials of the Office of the Treasury Registrar, in June 2020, one participant remarked, “I am pleased that this programme incorporates a session on emotional intelligence, which allows us to reflect on our emotions as well as emotions of others and how they affect performance in our office.” At UONGOZI Institute, Emotional Intelligence (EQ) remains the most popular course. Recognising that leaders with high emotional intelligence create more connected and motivated teams, we work to integrate EQ into other programmes as well.

Building trust and respect

The building of trust and respect as a leader and throughout a team is vital. They are vital for building an effective team as they help create team cooperation, unity, openness and loyalty. 

Trust and respect are commonly linked to ethical leadership qualities shaped by respect for ethics and values. The more the leader demonstrate these qualities the higher level of trust and respect they generate from teams who will also reflect them. Our Acting CEO, Kadari Singo, says “Ethical leadership is about acting right and making value-driven decisions. It inspires trust and team success. People are more likely to invest time and take risks when they have a sense a leader is worthy of their trust.” 

Listening to everyone

Leaders who are able to listen can build trustworthy relationships that nurture loyalty and transparency. Listening is accompanied by being aware of non-verbal cues if it is to be a really effective leadership tool for building teams. 

In his book, My Life, My Purpose: A Tanzanian President Remembers , H.E. Benjamin Mkapa  describes Mwalimu Nyerere  as an “exceptional communicator” skilled in being open to listening to discover new ideas or perspectives. He reflected: “His [Mwalimu’s] capacity to listen, even to the dullest member of the gathering, was extraordinary. He listened because something of value might emerge from whatever the speaker was saying, that person’s florid presentation style might be obscuring some useful knowledge, so he would patiently wait.” 

Giving and receiving feedback

Leaders learn and grow through giving and receiving feedback. Cultivating this within a team of any scale will also foster a growth mindset in them. A leader relies on accomplished communication skills and emotional intelligence to understanding how to use feedback as a tool for empowering those they lead. 

Taking time for reflection 

It is easy to become caught up in completing tasks and meeting deadlines. Effective leaders create opportunities to reflect on accomplishments and setbacks. Team retreats are ideal opportunities for leaders to help teams to reflect on how to increase future learning and performance.  

UONGOZI Institute’s executive education approach includes leadership retreats for senior management teams as well as technical personnel in the public and regional institutions. It tailors each retreat programme to fit a client’s needs. To learn more about this and other executive education programmes, you may email info@uongozi.or.tz.

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