Everything in a team grows and declines because of leadership. Quality of leadership is the quality of a team. A leader does make a massive impact on the overall team achievement and leadership determines success.
A CEO in our recent team development assignment puts it this way: “It is unfortunate that many managers want to stimulate the development of high-performance teams, but do not see themselves as active players in the process.”
This happens because of the superficial belief that a team should be self-contained and owned by the team members. There is nothing inherently wrong with this belief. However, the fact is that the manager, formal leader, or team supervisor has a major role in setting the climate for the development of teams.
I cannot overstate the point that if you want to encourage team functioning, it is very likely that you yourself will have to change. If you don’t, any team approach is doomed to failure. Why do I feel so strongly about this? Because only then will you realize that leadership determines success.
To follow this precept, a sports team is guided by a coach, a symphony orchestra by a conductor. These teams don’t suddenly develop without effective leadership. All managers must exhibit a high level of leadership skills to ensure the long-term sustenance of the team.
Whether your team will rise or fall, depends largely on the key leadership skills. Some of those critical leadership competencies include the following:
1. Interpersonal Skills
The team leader should have highly developed interpersonal skills and some basic understanding of human psychology. A leader’s ability to connect with his team and maintaining a strong rapport with people earns him the trust and confidence of the team.
Leaders recognize the position of a balance between people (confirming those team fellows are satisfied with the procedure of getting the work done) and tasks (getting the job done). Most leaders have a natural unfairness either for people or results. Knowing your normal tendency will let you modify your leadership style to get the most from the team.
Leaders must have a great understanding and preference for listening rather than directing and talking. At leadership spot, leaders are vulnerable to out-talk others. Leaders show less importance to other’s ideas, thoughts, and opinions. The ability to communicate and willingness to listen are fundamental qualities of leadership.
Leaders must commit themselves to the team, and not give up when the going gets tough, or success is slow in coming. All top-quality leaders show loyalty to the purpose of the team and leadership determines success. In tough situations, teams look up to the leader. They read signs of commitment with great accuracy. When the team knows that leadership is fully committed to the cause, they too become unstoppable.
5. Consistency in leadership determines success
Leaders must behave in a consistent manner. The kind of leader who sometimes encourages the team process and at other times bypasses the team confuses the hell out of everyone. When this happens, nobody takes the team or the leader seriously. Therefore, leaders must show reliability in their actions and behaviors. However, consistency doesn’t mean show your same behavior in every state. It means, displaying similar behavior in a similar state. Consistency is the best talent that you can show to your team.
6. Role Model
The team will take its cues from its leader or manager. As a leader, you cannot break interpersonal rules, refuse to listen, insist on your own privileges, and yet expect the members of your team to believe that you REALLY value working together. Whatever leaders want the team to do, they must first become role models themselves, and only then can they expect others to co-operate.
Managers often ask me the critical question: “How will my role as a manager evolve as the team grows?”
My reply goes something like this: Not only is the manager’s role critical, but it changes over the lifespan of the team-development process. At the beginning of the process, the team members may need a good deal of help developing their mission and purpose, identifying what they want to accomplish, and, more importantly, with the development of interpersonal and group skills such as conflict resolution, meeting management, etc. They may also need constant reminders that the manager is serious about the team; meaning that its activities, decisions, and recommendations will be implemented wherever humanly possible.
Teams develop and grow with the help and guidance of a leader whose job is not to control, but to teach, encourage, and organize when necessary. If you really want me to define the role of a manager in a team context, I see him/her as a catalyst, a force that causes things to happen for other people, and for the team.