How To Become A Team Leader

Making the transition into a leadership role for the first time is one of the most challenging changes to make during a career. Not only do you have to develop a new set of functional skills, but you also need to make a shift in your thinking and your behaviors.

The big difference in the role is about getting the job done as you would be a team member and getting the job done.

Your duties generally fall into four categories: Team leadership and Coaching, Managing Customer Requirements, Coordinating Operations, and Communicating Team Targets, Direction, and Status.

Team Leadership And Coaching

  • Provide the team with a vision of the project objectives.
  • Lead to create an environment of trust, open communication, and problem-solving.
  • Engage, motivate, and inspire team members and maintain team dynamic.
  • Develop team members.
  • Manage conflict and weak performance behaviors.
  • Facilitate problem solving and collaboration.
  • Ensure team members have the information, knowledge, and education necessary to perform and participate.
  • Encourage creativity and constant improvement.
  • Recognize accomplishments and high-level performance.

Managing Customer Requirements

  • Coordinate with customers as necessary.
  • Ensure the team is focused on customer specifications, targets, standards to support task performance.
  • Assure that the team addresses all relevant issues within the specifications and various standards.
  • Ensure the team is focused, efficient, and tasks are aligned with other company departments’ operations.

Coordinate Operations

  • Work with department managers and the team sponsor to obtain the necessary resources to support the team’s requirements.
  • Obtain and coordinate space, furniture, equipment, and communication lines for team members.
  • Establish meeting times, places, and agendas.
  • Coordinate the review, presentation, and release of design layouts, drawings, analysis, and other documentation.
  • Coordinates meetings with the product committee, project manager, and functional management to discuss project impediments, needed resources, or issues/delays in completing the task.

Communicating Team Targets, Direction, And Status

  • Provide status reporting of team activities against the program plan or schedule.
  • Keep the project manager and product committee informed of task accomplishment, issues, and status.
  • Serve as a focal point to communicate and resolve interface and integration issues with other teams.
  • Escalate issues that the team cannot determine.
  • Guide the team based on management direction.

Challenges are often about the team’s politics, especially if one or many aspired to their role. You want them to follow you but are also conscious of the previous relationship while you were all team members. When conflict arises, you don’t want to be seen as favoring one member over another, and it may be one or some of the team members are difficult to work with.

This new world of work requires quite different skill sets and approaches, but don’t be deterred. When managers understand the principles of leadership, it lifts the burden.

Historically, leadership was defined by having authority over others, and communication and power were directed downwards. Employees were obliged to follow the orders of the superior. Whilst many organizations still operate on these principles, and the employment relationship has radically shifted. High-performing organizations have flipped the top-down autocratic leadership model to a bottom-up empowerment model. Leaders act as facilitators and coaches and stand beside their team supporting and steering them in the right direction. The critical difference is communication flows both ways. The manager encourages a two-way dialogue and enables members to bring their ideas and initiative to the group while sharing their personal skills and insight. The leader fosters self-efficacy by ensuring the members have the resources they need to achieve targets.

Empowerment Leadership

Empowerment leadership is not always suitable for all situations. In cases of crisis or uncertainty or if an employee is unskilled in a particular area, greater leadership presence is required. However, when employees have a clear line of sight to their goal, they have the skill and resources. Empowerment leadership has numerous beneficial outcomes on performance.

An employee who feels empowered will feel that their personal work is important to the organization.

An employee who feels empowered will be better able to perform tasks successfully.

An employee who feels empowered will be free to choose how to begin and end tasks that they have been given.

The personal behavior of an empowered employee will contribute to important outcomes within the organization.