Team Leadership – You will get out of it what you put in

The team leader makes or breaks the effectiveness of the team. A great team leader has the power to motivate the team to achieve beyond what each team member thought possible. As a team leader, the more you look after the members of your team, the more you will get back from them in return.

When I am establishing a team, I need to anticipate what my team needs and expects of me so that together we can work together to reach the same desired outcome. I ask myself some simple questions to get on track:

• Does each team member know their role in the team? And even more importantly: Does each team know the importance of the impact that role has on the overall team goal?
• Do team members have sufficient information about what is expected?
• Are the deadlines set realistic and have they been clearly communicated to the team?

From my experience of leading teams, I have learnt an overall goal or purpose is needed. If I am not showing passion towards the goal, then others too will lack passion. To motivate others, it is important to have a clear purpose as to why the team has been brought together, when everyone is engaged in this purpose it helps the team remain motivated and to keep pushing towards this overall goal.

But defining the purpose is not enough to keep the team engaged in the long-term. Team members also need ongoing support and encouragement. You can’t just allocate an assignment and walk away, delegation is more than that. You need to be observant, review results, and pay credit where it is due. Individuals want to be recognised for the effort that they put in. In sports, teams heavily rely on the support of their fans and coaches and that is what drives them to perform at their best. Each of us needs to feel supported to perform at our best.

Lastly, when the job is done, you need to evaluate the outcome. Collect your team members for a meeting, usually soon after the task is completed so that ideas are fresh in everyone’s minds. Have an open discussion with your team, this can include: how they felt the overall task went, what they liked or didn’t like about the experience, and what could be looked at to improve for the future. Just as we started on a high note, it’s also important that we close on a high note too. I like to thank all of those involved, perhaps provide an incentive for a job well done. I also like to leave it open so that if in the future we can collectively work together again, the opportunity is there to ask.

The more I put into being a great team leader, the more results that are produced by my team. Each team member improves their skills, knowledge and experience to anticipate and respond to difficult situations and develop a greater awareness of what they are capable of. Having great team members that deliver great results makes you feel proud that you get to be a part of it. This is when you start to realise the value of ‘we’ instead of ‘I’.

Have you had to manage a team on a project? What has it taught you?