They say, “a great leader leads from within the team” and by proving the efficiency of the team, the attributes of the leader are highlighted through the success of the team effort. Studies in psychology claim that the huge multitude of leadership activities and programs that are brought in by the companies and institutes are not effectual enough to foster leadership qualities in an individual. Thus, beyond the oversimplified assumptions and assertions, there is little to suggest what an effective team leader is and what must be done to enhance the leadership skills of a person.
The Oxford dictionary might define a leader as ‘someone who leads a group of people’, but leading a team and maintaining the cohesiveness of the team by the end of the task is quite a challenge. So, read on to find out how you can be the perfect forerunner!
Build a cohesive team: We are familiar with the saying “Alone we can do so little, together we can do so much”. There is a need to build a team wherein the members are compatible with each other and the team is formed on the foundation of trust and mutual understanding. Team building is a dynamic activity, not a bounded, static entity. To build a stable team structure, the manager/leader must bring in an agglomeration of skilled individuals who are adept in handling the required tasks efficiently. As a matter of fact, most of the teams have individuals with different personalities but they are focused on achieving a common goal or purpose, hence, they end up working together as part of the whole group, compromising and coordinating together. Thus, assembling a team where the members are compatible with each other is the first task for becoming an effective team leader, as the team is the representation of the competency of the leader.
Establish the ground rules: For every venture, there is a need to set the rules and regulations that the team members will have to abide by. Once the team is brought together, there is a need for rules which will define the dynamics of the team in the further stages. Teams operate well when bound by a certain set of rules, and thus, functioning within an established system becomes much easier. Ground rules refer to the setting up of expectations; and when expectations are in the play, the members would always strive to meet them. The rules are also necessary so that there is no personal bias against any member of the team and everyone is treated equally. Not only this, but the team rules also help the members in making group decisions, improve relationships in the workspace and enhance team satisfaction. Setting up of ground rules is a pre-requisite to facilitate teamwork.
Encourage interaction and communication: Creating an open space where the team members can socialize, communicate and interact with each other is an important part of the team building process. In this context, the team leader also proves his efficiency by participating in the process of interaction. A team can only be led to success when the leader is a part and parcel of the team and shows his/her involvement in the work. If there is need to achieve a goal, then the team can only do it when they trust and respect the team leader, which in turn can be possible only when the leader knows his/her team, inside out. To lead a team and to encourage interaction, the leader must schedule regular meetings, encourage team building activities and provide a forum where everyone can share their problems and confessions so as to help in the resolution of the conflicts. Interaction and integration between team members would help in the realization of the larger picture and the final achievement of the shared goals.
Learn the art of effective delegation: The process of compartmentalization and delegation represents the managerial efficiency of the team leader. Once the management skills are in place, the team will eventually settle down and grow. Without learning how to apportion the work among the team members, one cannot take up higher responsibilities. For creating an effective dynamic team, there is a need to consign the right task to the deserving candidate under the right circumstances and evaluate their performance. Leading a team effectively requires proper assignment of roles by the leader, who should know about the skill set of every member, and assign the task accordingly. Setting clear objectives, tasks and measures are the need of the day to reach the zenith of team productivity.
Be the harbinger of peace and resolve conflicts: “Conflict resolution is first- a mindset and then a skill set”. A conflict is a situation when the interests, needs, goals or values of involved parties interfere with one another and thus creates disturbances in the workplace. To form a team that works with efficiency, the leader must become the harbinger of peace and resolve the conflicts amongst the members. Firstly, the process of active listening must be adopted so that everyone gets a chance to share their side of the story. Secondly, there is a need for clarification which would bring the real problems to the limelight. Thirdly, once the problem is identified, there must be an active participation to resolve the issue with a win-win solution, so that the parties involved in the conflict are satisfied. The best strategy to end to a conflict within the team is to formulate an argument/solution that would work for everyone, as the only thing that redeems everyone is cooperation.
Give regular feedbacks: The most intrinsic ideal that defines the basis of the team and its work is the appreciation and the feedback provided by the authoritative figures. Psychologists have stated in many journals that feedback is an integral part of creating an effective team, as when the members are made aware of their own faults and strengths, they tend to work towards the improvement of the flaws and draw encouragement from the appreciation. A team leader is looked upon as an advisor and is adjudged as a source of guidance for the team members. Hence, by providing regular feedback on the work of the team members, the leader actually boosts the confidence and trust of the members and encourages them to improve and add on to their skills. As it is rightly said, “There is always space for improvement, no matter how long you’ve been in the business”.
In today’s world of cut-throat competition, rampant unpredictability and a constant need for new innovations, there is a want for greater interdependence. Thus, we need even greater levels of collaboration and communication than ever before. To improve internal functioning and for leading a team/organization effectively, there is a need for coordination and cohesiveness. Harvard psychologist Richard Hackman asserts on the fact that well-designed teams are those with clear goals, segregated tasks that are conducive to teamwork, team members with the right skills and experiences for the task, adequate resources and access to guidance as well as support. Hence, creating a team and leading it effectively requires assiduous efforts, as team building is a long process and so- “coming together is the beginning, keeping together is progress and working together is success.”