by Colleen Cormier, Account Executive for On The Mark Strategies

This is the fifth and final installment of a blog series about qualities that define strong leaders.

I have a friend who recently quite a job on the spot. She had no job lined up to replace the one she was leaving, and she didn’t even give a two-week notice. She was miserable because she felt the company lacked integrity and her boss was a tyrant. She said staying there a minute longer would have felt like she was selling her soul.

Those are pretty strong words, but they demonstrate what we’ve been writing about in this blog series on leadership. A “bad boss” is often the reason valuable employees leave companies. When I asked her what type of boss she was looking for, she said one who is a team player.

The late author Dale Carnegie would agree. He once wrote, “The best organizations in the market today are those that use the synergy and potential of all employees to go forward, rather than having a single person dictating what should be done…the collaboration of employees working with their leader as an engaged team can move the company faster forward.”

The question is, how do you maintain your authority as a leader if you are also a member of the team?

Help when help is needed

Sometimes employees need help. Maybe several unexpected tasks popped up or it’s a time when they happen to have several looming deadlines. Perhaps they have an appointment and have to leave their teller window earlier than normal. Step into that teller window for them. Take one or two of those unexpected tasks (as your time and ability enables you). Do what you can to decrease their stress level. The fact that you’re even willing to help will make employees respect you more.

Give credit where credit is due

Few things kill morale more than when a leader takes credit for an idea or a project that wasn’t his. When you work as a team, give credit as a team. It’s okay to tell the CEO or VP that employee X came up with that idea or employee Y did the bulk of the work. It shows that you, as a leader, not only respect your employees but also have the leadership strength to put together a diverse team of loyal and talented employees.

Make decisions as a team when feasible

When you have a decision to make that affects the team or various stakeholders on the team, involve them in the solution when you can. They are the experts in their fields. They may know something you don’t and might offer a solution you didn’t realize was a possibility. People also feel valued when you respect them enough to involve them in the decision-making process. It shows them you trust their expertise and their ability to do the job you hired them to do.

Being a team player doesn’t mean you give up your authority as a leader. It means you help when you can, seek employee input (especially when they have more expertise than you in certain matters) and use the strengths of your entire team to help your financial institution succeed.