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Teams – leadership


Team work can be harder to appreciate for some.
Firstly, you must work with others and not independently.
Secondly, the process can appear to be slower, for example decision making.

The only reason for using team work is if the whole is more efficient than the sum of its parts.

Teams are often born out of the necessity for various departments to work together.
Others will be within your department. Either way they will need to be lead.

Leadership is a huge topic and is covered in more detail elsewhere (see The Complete Leadership package).

The principles are the same whether you are part of a team or not.
In the case of a team, leadership may be a little more vague as roles can become blurred.
An important part is the casting of a vision as the backcloth for the team’s activities.
The vision is used to convince the team of their purpose and create buy-in.

Others will help create a plan of action which is then implemented.
A culture of trust and integrity is required to complete the plans successfully.

You may not perceive yourself as a leader but there may be times when leadership is needed.
A poor leader will certainly affect motivation.

Team leader

If there is no leader then appoint one.
The leader will be responsible for the vision and the goal of the team.
He or she will make sure that a schedule is in place and help the team to contribute and be successful.

Roles and objectives must be clearly identified.
Standards should be set, communication should be encouraged together with openness.


Always clarify and set goals perhaps using S.M.A.R.T. targets.
Communicate why you have the goals in the first place.

Give as much freedom to the team as you can to solve their own problems, perhaps have their own budget etc.
May be they can instigate their own way of celebrating their successes and achievements.


Leadership characteristics have been identified and some are:


They inspire and motivate


Be yourself. Try not to be something you are not and thus retain integrity.


The autocratic leader likes control. He knows the business inside out and likes to be involved in all of the detail.
They may be extrovert or colourful characters who find media attention very easy.
They become a symbol for their organisation.

The entrepreneur often meets with doubters along the way to success. They can give the impression that they know it all.
This approach may work well when the organisation is small and using more simplistic systems. Once the business starts to take off and the organisation expands it becomes more complex to run and the autocrat begins to struggle.

A good leader will think about succession. In the case of the autocrat no one is really good enough to be trusted with the job.
Because of this no one is ever trusted to gain the necessary experience to eventually take over.

There are others like:

  • Bureaucrat
  • Aristocrat
  • Democrat

Leadership can be a combination of many traits.

Team connection

This is more than just communicating well. It’s about building up a good rapport with the team and amongst the team. They must trust you and each other. Once this happens people will want to give their time and effort to help others within the team for the good of the team. Motivation will increase.

Some areas where you can help are:

  • Get to know the team and their likes and dislikes.
  • Talk about the team as a single entity that can achieve more than the parts.
  • Encourage and praise success and innovation at every opportunity.
  • Listen well and treat people both equally and as equals.
  • Look for ways forward rather than obstacles to new ideas.

A dictionary definition of encouragement is:

‘to inspire with the courage and confidence (to do something)’.

In this way, you must remove the fear of trying, the fear of failure by allowing people to fail.
Failure should be used as a good learning experience.

If you care about the people first other aspects of good leadership will more easily fall into place.

It’s good to have an idea whether your team does connect with each other.

  • Is there any evidence of concern, altruistic behaviour or patience?
  • They freely praise each other and enjoy the success of others with no hint of jealousy.
  • They do not harbour any adverse feelings when others make mistakes.
  • Boasting and hogging the limelight is reduced.

Of course, as the team leader you must lead by example and exhibit all of these qualities yourself.

You will not be able to get great connection just by imposing a set of rules.
Only the team can implement what is necessary. You have to have patience and provide the environment for it to happen.

The legacy

One technique often used to clarify where you want to be is to consider how you would like people to remember you if you were dead. You could write your own legacy in 20 to 30 words. Once you have this you will then consider how you will live up to your future view of how others might see you.

This applies to you but there is nothing to stop you asking your team how they might wish to be viewed.
Instead of looking at the scenario of death you could canvass opinion of “How would you like this team to be remembered at the end of this project?”

Once you have this, people are committed to try to achieve it. Put it in a prominent position or refer to it at the start of team meetings as a reminder.

Why not generate an acronym around ‘team oriented’ phrases that people can identify with, for example:



Skills etc.

Remind people that you are a team and you all rise and fall on the efforts of each other.
Once you establish this mentality motivation appears more easily.


There is a possibility that your team can reach a level of performance where they can run virtually independent of yourself. In this situation you will act as a facilitator. The longer a team stays together the more likely it is this will happen. A team will get to a point where people find it easy to ask for and return favours for each other.

Should the team get to the stage where they are completely self sufficient you can step back.
In this situation provided all the team requirements are met, for example, setting of goals, running a budget etc it should work. It will leave you to remain as an adviser and free to focus on other teams or individuals.