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Here are examples of what employees view as good and bad team leaders. The members of Bob's team think that he is a great team leader. All of them are impressed by his knowledge. But it is not his knowledge alone that makes him a good team leader. He also has the ability to "facilitate" discussion without imposing their own opinions. During the discussions je engages his team members with thought provoking "what if" scenarios. In the end, he is able to take multiple ideas and combine them into one concise statement reflective of all input. In contrast, John frustrates his team members. He sits in meetings and simply takes notes without doing anything to inspire creative thinking. He is only wants to make sure that the end results express his ideas. His team members feel dejected and useless.
A team leader or team lead is someone (or in certain cases there may be multiple team leaders) who provides guidance, instruction, direction, and leadership to a group of other individuals (the team) for the purpose of achieving a key result or group of aligned results.
There are many elements that create, and are essential to be an effective leader who has the power to motivate a team and drive success. There is often a balancing act that the leader must manage between being a leader and a member while ensuring the goal is clear and obtainable.
A good team leader listens constructively to the membership and to the customer(s) of the results that the team is charged with delivering.
The Team Leader: Reporting Structure
The team lead reports to a project manager (overseeing several teams). The team leader monitors the quantitative and qualitative result that is to be achieved. The leader works with the team membership.
The team membership may not directly report or answer to the team leader (who is very often a senior member of the organization but may or may not be a manager), but would be expected to provide support to the team leader and other team members in achieving the team's goals.
The Team Leader: Responsibilities
The responsibilities of a team lead vary greatly between organizations, but usually include some responsibility for team building and ensuring teamwork.
The term is used to emphasize the cooperative nature of a team, in contrast to a typical command structure, where the head of a team would be its commander.
The Team Leader: Leadership Competencies
There are six leadership competencies that are the building blocks to becoming an effective leader:
Focus on the goal,
Ensure a collaborative climate,
Demonstrate sufficient technical know-how,
Manage performance as described When Teams Work Best by LaFasto and Larson.
Does an effective team leader both merge into the group as a member of the team and also maintain a leadership role? And if so, how?
A leader is the key player in the game that is comprised of challenge and risk. Therefore, an effective team leader must be both a component to the team and also a leader to manage the team's progress.
The leader cannot possibly be competent in every area without being engaged in the team. The leader must know each member and the team as a whole in order to bring them all together and create a process that is open, productive, and promotes confidence.
An effective leader uses each member's contributions and energy to focus on a common goal.
Essentially, a leader's job is to add importance to the team's effort, which cannot be done without being a member.
It is very common for a team leader to be in the dark about their team and the everyday operations. This is a consequence of a leader's disengagement and lack of membership with the team.
Moreover, the team's contention usually gives birth at this point and lends itself to decreased productivity and satisfaction. An effective leader needs to be able to pinpoint problems and praise excellence within the group, which cannot be done from the sidelines.
The leader is a part of the overall process; therefore, a relationship naturally exists. However, it is up to the leader whether to nurture that relationship or minimize its importance.
The team leader must understand the team's vision and clearly define the goal to guarantee success and member loyalty. One cannot lead a team without knowing the purpose and goal of the team. The team leader creates a collaborative climate to ensure that the best thinking and ideas of the team are represented. Again, a wholesome climate cannot be established without knowing the members and becoming engaged in the team.
The foundation of a highly motivated and successful team is the members' understanding and relevance of their goal. An effective leader's trust in the team goal is vital to the member's commitment.
The members become isolated and discouraged when the leader's investment is minimal. Team members want the opportunity to prove their value and worth to the goal and the leader. The leader must be involved and a member of the team to effectively influence the members' productivity and function in the grand scheme of things.