Who is a team leader you may ask? A team leader is an individual that provides leadership and direction to members of a group or team. Teams are generally smaller groups of people tasked with the accomplishment of a specific goal. The team leader has a superior who may be a Supervisor or Manager. He is a member of the team but has leadership responsibilities attached to him. The success or failure of a team depends mainly on the type of leader it has as the members would be unable to work together towards achieving their collective goal.
For a team leader to function effectively, he must possess certain qualities that would enable him perform his job. He also has several responsibilities that are attached to that office. I shall be examining some of these qualities and responsibilities in this article.
Qualities of a Team Leader
1. Should be able to understand the purpose, mission and vision of the teamThis is important for every team leader if he is to succeed. He must be able to understand the purpose, mission and vision of the team that he is leading. Without this, he would lead the team in the wrong direction and their purpose would be defeated. If the team exists in an organisation, it is important that the team leader understands the overall goals of the unit, department and team in order not to work contrary to it. It would also become easier for him to explain it to members of his team.
2. Must be a
The team leader must also have good negotiating skills because it would help him achieve results and resolve conflicts among members of his team. This quality is very important in team leaders and would enable decisions to be made faster. Problems would be handled by teams easily when their leader possesses it.
3. Must be able to delegate responsibility to othersAnother good quality of successful team leaders is their ability to allow others express themselves. They should be able to delegate through other members of the team as this develops a sense of ownership in them and enables the leader to focus on other important tasks. This increases turnaround time and productivity levels.
4. Must be influentialThe team leader should be able to influence and inspire other members of the team to pursue its collective goals and objectives. This also helps to improve communication in the work place. The person who occupies this position must have certain abilities; skills and knowledge to enable them exert some level of influence over others.
5. Must have IntegrityA team leader should be one who is honest and responsible. They must be transparent with other team members as this would help them gain their trust. Without this quality, it would be difficult for the leader to have an open and cordial working relationship with their team members.
6. Must be fair to allA team leader must not be partial and should show this in their interactions with their team members. They must recognize those who work hard without any form of partiality. There should not be any special treatment for any member of the team.
The responsibilities required of a team leader also include the following:
1. To provide direction to the team membersWithout the team having a sense of direction, they would not be able to achieve any worthwhile goal. The team leader must understand the vision and be able to get the other members to get involved. He must drive it and communicate that vision clearly to them. Without this, its goals cannot be accomplished.
2. To provide motivationThe team leader should understand the members of his team and be able to devise ways to motivate them towards achieving their collective goals. This also enables them to function effectively. Without the right motivation, his colleagues may become complacent thus affecting
the productivity levels of the team positively. He should also be enthusiastic about their assignment as this would be an added motivation. The members can be motivated through recognition for their contributions and small rewards can be given to those who perform excellently. Everyone loves appreciation no matter how little.
3. To ensure good communication flowThe leader is expected to develop and efficient communication system between him and the other members. This would ensure that the vision of the team is understood clearly by all. In doing this, the leader should also be a good listener and one who pays attention to the verbal and non verbal responses of his colleagues. Communication is important in the success of any team or organisation so this should be a priority for the leader. He is also expected to be the communication link between Management and the team and must understand how to manage this channel efficiently.
4. To create a conducive environmentThe leader must be skillful and able to create a very conducive work environment for every member of the team. They should be encouraged to work together in a cordial and fun environment where nobody is afraid of making mistakes. This would encourage togetherness and make problem solving easy. The team leader should be able to encourage the others to express themselves. He can achieve this by training them to maximize their potentials. In this way, everyone strives to contribute their best towards the growth and development of the team without being afraid to fail.
5. To develop an effective training and development planThe team leader should come up with a programme that would encourage training and development of team members. The members should regularly upgrade their skills and knowledge to keep abreast with the changing times.
6. To lead by exampleIt is also the responsibility of the leader to show that he is a worthy example that other should follow. He must be one who does the right things at all times. He should be one who does what he says at all times.
7. To accept responsibilityIt is the leader's place to take responsibility for any failures which his team may experience. He must not shift blame on others.
These are some of the qualities and responsibilities of effective leaders and those who apply them would have tremendous and positive impact on the team members.