Some people are born leaders. Wherever they go, they don the hat of the leader. However, most people succeed as team leaders not because they are destined to but because they are determined to. What does it take to be an effective team leader?
Open communication channels
Poor communication skills can be the kiss of death for a team leader.
- ~ If you are not precise and clear about what you expect from your team members, you will not get the crisp action and results you want
- Make sure your team knows that you are approachable and you consider them worthy of your time.
- ~ Every member of the team has strengths required to make the team successful. So, each should be treated with the same respect.
- ~ An informal atmosphere is an added advantage.
It is up to the team leader to be farsighted, anticipate problems that may plague the team in the future and take preventive measures. Effective problem solving requires discipline and organisation.
- ~ An effective rule for managing issues is: When you hear it, write about it. This ensures that all related details are recorded and can be subsequently reviewed. Each issue can then be prioritised and attended to accordingly.
- ~ Townsend states, 'An important task of a manager is to reduce his people's excuses for failure.' These excuses later on take the form of issues or problems.
Be helpful, not forceful
Gone are the days where the command and control format applied. Leadership as of today is all about guiding -- not ruling. People management skills are a pre-requisite for anybody aspiring to be a team leader.
- ~ You need to gauge your team members accurately. It is only by understanding their individual work preferences, core competencies, motivation levels, areas of improvement and strengths that you will be in a position to assign them tasks accordingly.
- ~ If one of your team members is finding it difficult to meet his deadline, get a colleague, who is relatively free, to chip in. Two brains are better than one.
Your team members will definitely appreciate your sense of solidarity and respect you more for saving the day for them.
Trust is the key
No relationship is long-lasting or worthwhile if trust is missing. This holds equally true for the team leader and team member relationship.
~ The first thing a team leader needs to get straight is that his team will not trust him because he considers himself to be trustworthy.
Anyone who has ever walked a corporate corridor knows that trusting the wrong person has led to many an executive's downfall in the long run.
He needs to trust his team members before they trust him. It works both ways.
- ~ As the team leader is the connection between the team and the higher management, he needs to work in tandem with both parties to obtain a full commitment from the management in support of the team's programme.
- It is his responsibility to ensure his team members are making maximum use of the resources and the support provided. He needs to earn the trust of both parties to meet his objectives.
- Betrayal of trust leads to an inevitable downfall.
Show the way
Meetings, issues, firefighting and meeting deadlines sometimes makes the team leader put mentoring of team members on the backburner.
However, today's executive is no longer lured by just the job guarantee factor or a fat paycheque. More than anything else, he is looking for professional growth.
~ Building and supporting a career development atmosphere is paramount. By empowering your team members, you empower yourself. You need not then micro-manage your employees and can concentrate on matters that merit your time and attention.
The investment in making sure that every team member is ascending his personal learning curve pays great dividends. Not only does it boost their confidence, the team members become increasingly valuable to the organisation.
- ~ Team members need feedback on a regular basis, not just during the annual appraisals. They need to be made aware of their performance levels and be given an opportunity to discuss their needs for growth and development. Recognition of efforts is essential for lifting the executives' spirits and strengthening their sense of commitmen t.
- Likewise, the executives must be told -- firmly but gently -- about their areas of improvements as well as shown ways and means of working on them. Quality needs to be inspired, not dictated.
- ~ Set high standards for yourself and your team will follow suit. Your example will always be emulated. Nothing inspires a team member more than seeing his boss hard at work.