6 Ways Leaders Can Help Their Team Do Better

We often talk about all the ways employees can be better, or ways that leaders can improve their interpersonal skills. But ultimately, one of the most important jobs of a leader is to lead their team. If a leader flounders, the team is going to struggle to keep up. Let’s look at a few ways that leaders can support their team and help them to be more productive, proactive, and support the overall company mission.

Rearrange The Office

Is the current layout of your workspace conducive to collaborative work? Does it offer separated space for those who need to recharge away from the team? Is it laid out in such a way that those with mobility aids can use them easily, without bumping into other people or feeling like an imposition?

If the office isn’t laid out for the functional use of individuals and teams, the team overall isn’t going to be as productive as it can be. Taking a hard look at how to better organize your office space, with input from your team, can be incredibly helpful. This can also improve morale, as employees feel like they own more of the space.

Be Consistent

As a team leader, it’s important to be consistent. You need to do what you say, and say what you’re doing. You need to treat everyone roughly the same, and make sure that when you set a goal or an objective, you are clear and consistent about roles and delegation.

That said, it’s important not to let consistent blur into rigid. More and more research is showing that leaders who flex for realistic life situations have better teams than those who demand that everyone meet exactly the same standard at all times.

For example, if someone has a sick parent, spouse, or child that they need to care for, allowing them to work from home should be treated differently than someone who chronically does not complete their work. Everyone who chronically does not complete their work, however, should be treated the same way.

Set Achievable Goals

Few things demoralize a team faster than setting goals that are unachievable from the start. Setting a goal and being unable to meet it is frustrating, but it happens. Knowing from the first moment that a goal will not be able to be achieved and being forced to try anyway is discouraging.

This is commonly seen when businesses try to improve metrics by demanding teams do more instead of looking at what is limiting teams.

Provide Specific, Positive Feedback

Do you know how to compliment your employees? The answer isn’t “Great job,” as you walk past their cubicle. The answer is also not the same for every employee. Some team members would love public recognition at the next staff meeting; others would hugely prefer getting an email detailing what was well done on their last project.

Whatever method is the best for team feedback, make sure you’re specific. Instead of just telling the employee that their work was good, tell them why it was good. Tell them what happened because of what they did. We do these things instinctively when we’re offering constructive criticism, but forget them entirely in this situation. They are just as necessary when giving compliments.

Share Credit, Accept Responsibility

This is a simple truism in the leadership world. When your team does well, share the credit. When your team does poorly, accept responsibility. Too often, poor leaders do this backwards, taking credit for a team’s wins while shifting blame onto other team members. The team notices, and they resent it. They won’t work as hard for a manager who follows this model, so don’t be that leader.

Support Employees

Your team members should feel like they can come to you with a problem and get reasonable and helpful feedback, whether that concern is with other team members, upper management, or a situation outside of work that is affecting their performance. Leaders should know policies like flex time, FMLA, and other benefits to help employees know what their options are, long before HR is contacted. It’s also important to be able to represent employee concerns to your own boss, not just to other people on the team. After all, in many organizations, the team leader might be the only point of contact a team member has with anyone higher than themselves in the organization. If you don’t advocate for their needs, who will?

Building a solid, reliable team is a necessary part of running a good business and being a good leader. Companies with great leaders have better retention, better picks of hiring candidates, and are overall more successful.

The Writer’s Guide To Productivity

One of the hardest careers for productivity is writing. That’s because you need to be creative, pull words seemingly out of thin air and make it all sound amazing.

If you can follow the top productivity tips for writing, no matter whether you are an engineer or a photographer – or a writer, of course – you can master productivity.


The biggest problems writers face are distractions. It doesn’t matter whether you work from home or in an office, distractions make writers pull their hair out. These come in two forms. Some are passive distractions, ones that happen to you. For instance:

  • People are chatting in the cubicle next to yours, and you find it hard to put words together.
  • Kids are running around and making demands on your time while you are trying to write.
  • The TV is on in the other room, and the sound conflicts with trying to assemble words in your head.
  • The cat desperately needs your lap, because every other spot in the house is taken.

Then there are active distractions, ones that you initiate (tsk, tsk). For instance.

  • Your stomach speaks, so you go check out what food is lying around in the kitchen.
  • You decide to check your email for the 17th
  • You stop to chat with a colleague, not thinking about how that might also be disturbing someone in the next cubicle.
  • Hey, Twitter!!

The solution is to turn off all distractions. You’ll do best when you put on blinkers, just like a race horse. Well, not just like a race horse. That would look silly. Here’s what to do instead:

First, turn off everything on your computer. Turn off Skype notifications. Turn off Twitter notifications. If it takes buying a separate bargain-basement, stripped down Chromebook just for writing, so be it.

Second, close the door and lock it (don’t try this in a cubicle). Make getting up to check the food on the counter too much trouble to be worth the effort. Make checking the mail too much work to be worth the effort.

Third, put on sound-blocking ear muffs. You won’t be distracted by what you don’t hear.

Fourth, send the cat out on errands.

Get organized

Some writers just start writing.  In fact, most do.  Even I do far too often.  But don’t do what I do far too often. Instead, do what I did for this article. Prepare an outline first.

For bigger projects, create a more detailed outline.

With a detailed outline, it might be clear what research you’ll need for each section. Do the research and plug it into your outline.

If it’s fiction, add character development notes and other items into the outline where you plan to include them.

By the time you are ready to write, all the ideas should be in place. All you have to do is assemble the words.

Peak time of day

I work well first thing in the morning. Well, not quite first thing. I like to start with routine items first. But after a half hour, I’m ready to write! So everybody get out of my way, because I have a world to conquer…until lunch.

The sad thing is that I get drowsy, then hungry, in early to mid afternoon. That is not the time for me to do pro-active or creative work. It’s a great time to do more routine stuff or related activities, such as creating images or proofreading. It’s an even better time to take a nap! I do that once or twice a year.

I find that another peak time is the evening, from about 6:00 to 10:00. My energy level usually drops after 10:00, though.

Learn what your peak times are, and optimize your schedule for the various tasks you have to do.

Writer’s block

This type of problem is unique to creative people. What should I write about? What should I paint? What should I crochet next?

When short on ideas, move on to something else. Wash dishes. Go for a walk. Check to see if the cat is back, yet. Try doodling; that works sometimes.

Let you mind wander freely for a while and see what you think of.

Another trick, is to direct you mind on how it wanders by browsing through related image searches. Or reading related Quora answers.

I get a lot of inspiration from reading comments on related blogs.

You can be more productive

If you are organized and set up the systems you need, you can be more productive. Don’t believe me? Here’s what four other writers have to say. Count how many times the word “organized” comes up.

Author Bio: David Leonhardt’s “day job” is to run The Happy Guy Marketing, which offers ghostwriting of books and screenplays and such, as well as website promotion, such as content marketing and social media marketing. He blogs about self-help topics, including happiness, fitness and nutrition.