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Leaders are often expected to know it all, serving as the go-to expert on every facet of their business. However, at its core, leadership means understanding how to sync the powerful combination of people and purpose.

Business leaders looking to engage their teams, become more efficient, increase accountability, and produce results must first understand their people’s strengths. Then they have to enable team members to flex those muscles on work that matters to – and fundamentally suits – them. By doing that, business leaders can motivate their teams to their highest potential.

Identify data points that unveil your team's strengths

If your organization is using gut feeling to make decisions, you’re already losing. Whether you’re hiring, deciding to expand a product line, or developing a budget, good data can support smart choices. However, many companies get into the bad habit of collecting relevant data and then falling back on experience and intuition, especially when it comes to managing people.

Performance analytics offer a more effective way to identify and leverage the strong points of your team. Organizations that actively analyze team performance and individual traits can make better decisions. By understanding the characteristics required for strong team performance, you can identify gaps and recruit future employees more strategically. A product development team that already has a strong analytical bent, for example, might need individuals with strong connector skills or boundary-pushing imaginations.

By assessing your current team’s strengths, you can improve how you collaborate. You can tailor roles to make the most of current team members’ capabilities and identify opportunities for both existing employees and new hires. Performance analytics in action can improve efficiency and effectiveness, helping a lean team provide major value.

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Empower internal experts

There’s nothing worse than being asked for your input and then seeing that input ignored. Each instance of this all-too-common scenario is a blow to employee engagement and team motivation. If your immediate response to this description is to say, “Well, luckily, I don’t do that,” take a step back and be honest with yourself.

Even the most well-intentioned leaders can easily default to their preferred strategies and practices, ignoring internal experts to their organization’s detriment. Spend some time reviewing the performance analytics you’ve gathered and identify the team members who are making an impact. Based on your findings, elevate these high flyers to the role of adviser in their area of expertise.

These advisers don’t need to occupy major leadership roles. In fact, this group can help you unearth latent talent that might be inaccessible to you in your day-to-day work. Collaborate with your leadership team on how best to utilize your internal expertise. Your social media scheduler may have insights to contribute to broader marketing strategies, for instance, or a customer service rep could recommend ways to make customer touchpoints more efficient.

Be sure to acknowledge input, provide meaningful responses, and update your advisers on any actions taken – or not taken. If you transparently report the responses to their input and the reasons behind them, you’ll build trust even if the results differ from their suggestions.

Know when to step aside for maximum impact

Many leaders arrive at their top roles by coming up through the ranks, giving them valuable insight into the inner workings of the business. While this inside knowledge can be an advantage and a source of connection with front-line employees, it can also lead to bad habits like interference. It’s hard to hold back when you’re sure you know the best way to resolve an issue. The temptation to step in is often well-meaning, but it comes with a cost: stunting your team’s confidence in their strengths.

Overcome this inclination by trusting your team and empowering them to use their capabilities fully. Let your ideator spearhead brainstorming sessions and your budding analyst develop the next project estimate. Acknowledge wins regularly, in both formal and informal settings. These tactics can build your employees’ confidence while providing opportunities to deploy their strengths.

The more you understand your team members’ areas of expertise, the better you can adjust your behavior as a leader. Focus on active listening, asking probing questions to better understand issues and facilitate productive conversations. Use prompts like “How would you like to handle this?” to defer decision-making to team members. This may go against the grain at first, but stick with it. Over time, your team will confidently share input, helping your organization make better decisions and achieve maximum impact.

Your leadership style sets the tone for your organization's success

Beyond creating goals, strategies, and targets, leaders must also serve as advocates for their teams. Seek first to understand your team’s strengths, keeping an open mind as to how best to deploy them.

Get to know your team members individually to build trust, foster transparency, and uncover new strengths. Observe their talents in action, and you’ll gain qualitative insights that pair with hard data. As a leader, you’ll convey your respect for your team’s expertise through a willingness to not only listen, but to act accordingly. With your team’s strengths unleashed, your organization will thrive.

At Byline, we take the time to get to know your business. Whether you’d like to improve cash flow, expand operations or update equipment, our team can customize financing and treasury solutions to help. Reach out to us today.

This article was written by John Hall from Inc. and was legally licensed through the Industry Dive Content Marketplace. Please direct all licensing questions to [email protected].