How important is the role of a team leader?
Phil Van Auken notes that many people believe that being a leader is a matter of asserting “I am this” or “I am that.” However, a true team leader uses a sharing and caring style of leadership. This type of leader helps each member on their team to feel four important things about themselves.
- I am needed
- I am productive
- I am unique
- I am appreciated
The main goal of any leader must focus on the importance of those they lead. John Maxwell put it this way, “People buy into the leader before they buy into the vision.” Therefore, personal team development must become a priority before others are willing to follow and work together.
Values of a Team Leader
The value that the leader places upon others is essential for successful team development. The establishment of core values in a group is essential.
“Most leaders do not hold back because they do not know how to lead, but because they wonder if the vision will continue to be important to them.”1
The major issue for long-term leadership is not talent but rather the issue of importance. The struggle that many team leaders deal with is their personal commitment. This statement brings up the issue of dedication. Is an investment in other people worth the leader’s time and participation?
Here is a good checklist that can help determine if a leader really cares for those they are leading. Place a check by each item that characterizes your leadership style:
____ 1. Knowing the personal side of team members.
____ 2. Encouraging team members.
____ 3. Sharing your time with members of the team on a one-to-one basis.
____ 4. Doing some of the un-enjoyable teamwork yourself and delegating the more enjoyable work
to team members.
____ 5. Expressing your inner feelings and thoughts with team members.
____ 6. Accepting your share of the blame for team problems or failures.
____ 7. Listening to others.
____ 8. Creating unique serving opportunities for individual team members. (This checklist was created by Phil Van Auken)
Dreams and Visions of a Team Leader
The fact that a leader does not have a dream will become obvious to those whom he is trying to lead. Dreams take time to develop.
Dreams and visions for any organization are frequently never realized because of short term investing and a narrow view of what is in the future.
The Energy of a Team Leader
One of the primary functions of a leader is to create energy. Another area of influence by a committed leader is that of energizing those with whom he works. If team leaders do not instill in people constructive energy, then there is a strong indication that leadership is not taking place.2
To be a team leader with energy calls for certain behaviors. What is the difference between an active leader, a leader with energy, and a passive leader?
“The Active Leader
- Makes things happen
- Performs tasks personally
- Makes decisions unilaterally and individually
- Introduces informality into through formal programs
- Orchestrates change
- Engenders through words and actions
The Passive Leader
- Delegates tasks to others
- Engages in participative, shared decision making
- Achieves through informal interaction
- Allows change to happen naturally”
Phil Van Auken says, “In reality there is no totally active or totally passive leader, only varying blends of both traits. Leadership effectiveness is enhanced by the interplay of active and passive traits—the leader who can be many things to many people.”
The Stability of a Team Leader
Stability in a leadership structure is extremely important, so the changing of leadership among teams could cause problems for any organization. Thus, the tenure of team leaders or the lack of tenure can also be connected to the successes or problems of organizations.3
Sharing Authority as a Team Leader
When teams are created, developed and used, it is essential that team managers give team members enough authority to work and manage their processes.
This allowance should increase as the team matures and gains confidence in their tasks.4 If a leader does not allow his authority and leadership to convey confidence to those he is leading, then the results will be negative. When overpowering authority or leadership intervenes in a team, it can affect the team by
- throwing the team off track,
- decreasing the motivation of the team,
- reducing the commitment of the team members, and
- causing more problems than solutions.5
The Influence of a Team Leader
The healthiest way for a team leader to persuade those he is trying to direct is through his or her influence. The development of influence takes time.
“Classical sociological theory asserts that authority exists only when directives occur. Voluntary compliance depends on the perception by subordinates that those who issue directives are acting within their rights that the initiation of action is legitimate.”6
When a team leader of an organization intervenes negatively or in a micro-managing fashion over the development of a team, the effects of such intervention can be quite destructive.7
- Geoffrey M. Bellman, Getting Things Done When You are Not in Charge (San Francisco: Berrett-Koehler Publishers, 1992), 18.
- Geoffrey M. Bellman, Getting Things Done When You are Not in Charge, 19.
- J. Richard Hackman, ed., Groups That Work (San Francisco: Jossey-Bass Publishers, 1990), 485.
- J. Richard Hackman, ed., Groups That Work, 485.
- J. Richard Hackman, ed., Groups That Work, 486-487.
- Gene W. Dalton, Louis B. Barnes, and Abraham Zaleznik, The Distribution of Authority in Formal Organizations (Cambridge: The MIT Press, 1968), 37.
- J. Richard Hackman, ed., Groups That Work,