Leaders are team builders, and a leader derives power from the attitude which the team hold towards him or her. The leader has a responsibility to respond to that power and appropriate responses will facilitate the pursuit of team goals and the team’s performance of tasks. In effect, the leader enables effective collaboration between individuals and in so doing, builds a team.
Not everyone works best in a team or has the attitude necessary to make a good team leader. To decide if you are a potential team leader, ask yourself the following questions.
- Do you prefer a participative, interactive workplace environment?
- Are you comfortable sharing decision-making and leadership with others?
- Do you enjoy a quickly changing and variable atmosphere?
- Do you enjoy working with team members who will contribute?
- Do you like motivating and influencing others?
- Do you find collaboration as fulfilling as competitiveness?
Teams present particular problems that are not so common when people work alone, and require greater relationship management skills and effort from the leader. However, teams can also enhance and increase productivity and raise performance levels. Some specific benefits of team action are listed below:
- Effort is shared among several persons, which results in a greater overall effort and more activity than is possible with one person.
- Teams allow sharing of resources and also increase the resource base (which included individual talent and knowledge).
- Teams share the responsibility for tasks and outcomes, so may be more willing to take risks than individuals who might have to bear full responsibility for failure. They also share rewards, which can be motivating and more satisfying and create group feeling (and may de-motivate others).
- Team members learn from each other and from each other’s experiences, success and failures. This allows for greater and more sustained improvement than might occur if a person must learn from personal experience.
- Team work can be motivating as it can meet several important needs that may be difficult for the individual to meet alone. Some needs that a team might meet are sharing, participation, belonging, personal growth, achievement, social interaction, learning and success.
It may be time to build a team if you are facing the following problems:
- Loss of productivity or output
- Conflicts between personnel
- Lack of clear goals
- Confusion about assignments
- Lack or innovation or risk taking
- Ineffective meetings
- Lack of initiative
- Poor communication
- Lack of trust
- Employees feel that their work is not recognized
- Decisions are made that people do not understand or agree with.
A team is a group formed to achieve specified goals. Unlike some groups (e.g. social groups) a team does not form on its own; rather someone usually acts as catalyst, creating an idea and bringing people together to work on that idea. The catalyst may be become the team leader and probably will be at the beginning but ownership of the team should move from the leader to the team as a whole. The key elements of a team are: goals (group and individual), structure, tasks, communications (within the group, with the wider organisation and with the community or industry), processes (decision-making and problem-solving), relationships (within the team and with others outside it), and leadership. Each of these should be considered when establishing a team.
ESTABLISHING A TEAM
First, the leader and the team should discuss and arrive at both team goals and individual goals. Then the team is built by considering each of the following elements:
Establish team structure – Areas of expertise, meeting and group procedures, areas of degrees of authority
Clarify tasks – Area of responsibility, who does what, time frames, available resources, prioritizing.
Communications – Establish communication processes and requirements to ensure continual communication where needed.
Decision-making – Consider different methods and alternatives. Consider problem-solving strategies and their effectiveness. Determine criteria for decisions, such as time, costs.
Relationships – How individuals work together. How to utilise individual strengths. Creating relating opportunities and experiences through shared activities, recognition of shared effort.
Leadership – How the leader can best lead that group to achieve team goals and individual goals. Sharing and promoting values and beliefs to build team cohesiveness. Reducing the tendency to force conformity or agreement through overt or subtle pressure.
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