Keys to Effective Team Leadership
Keys to Effective Team Leadership
Developing and leading effective teams is an important activity in business. In modern complex business environment, planning and decision making cannot be left to a single person. The pressures of globalization, competition, overnight innovations and technological changes are too complex to be handled by one person. Even if an organization will be having one heroic leader, teamwork will still be important to assist the leader in making critical decisions and implementing the actions required. Unfortunately not all teams perform to their expectations. Many teams fail because of lack of strong leadership, lack of shared values and lack of cohesiveness.
Leadership is an important factor in developing effective teams. In fact, leadership is the most critical element that determines the success or the failure of a team (Hill, 2013; Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage). Whether it is in a face-to-face team or a virtual team, a group needs a leader who is in a position to rally the members towards the project’s mission, purpose and goals. This is an individual who will be able to commit the members to the results, be a source of inspiration, as well as be the link between the team and its sponsors. The team leader must be able to coordinate all the activities of the group as well as help all the members to bring on their talents to the group. Like Balthazard, Waldman and Waren observed, in face-to-face teams transformational leaders may emerge out of their personal characteristics while in virtual teams leaders may emerge out of their linguistic quality (2009, p.652).
An effective team will also need to have shared values. Whether the shared values are interpreted in terms of goals or shared vision, an effective team must have a unity of purpose. Members of a team are able to work together when they are driven by a passionate interest to accomplish a common vision (Williams and Gordon, 2006). For this reason, members of a team must be able to understand their current position, the challenges they face and what is required of them to attain the common goal.
The other crucial factor for an effective team is cohesiveness. Lack of cohesiveness in a team may be caused by many factors including lack of clearly defined roles and responsibilities, breakdown in communication, attitudes and cultural differences. To build cohesiveness, all members must understand their roles and responsibilities within the team and be made to commit towards discharging their duties (Hill, 2013). Communication, attitudes and cultural differences may play out differently depending with the nature of the team. In face-to-face teams, members may be build negative attitudes to each other depending on their appearances, the color of their skin and their way of communication. In virtual teams, negative attitudes may develop out of each member linguistic qualities.
It is therefore easy to conclude that teams that have an effective leader, shared vision and have worked out their interpersonal relationship are likely to succeed in executing their mission. All these factors will play out differently depending with the nature of the team- face-to-face or virtual. In virtual teams, the team leader will act more like a manager.
Balthazard, P.A, Waldman, D.A., & Wareen, J.E. (2009) Predictors of the emergence of transformational Leadership in Virtual decisions teams. The Leadership Quarterly Vol. 20(5):651-663
Hill, S.K. (2013). Team Leadership. In P.G. Northouse (Eds.), Leadership: Theory and Practice (pp. 241-270). New York: SAGE
Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage. Chapter 12, Team Leadership (pp. 287- 318)
Williams, M., & Gordon, J. (2006). Nurse or nurse leader? Leadership challenges in building healthcare organizations. The Business Review, Cambridge, Vol. 6(2), 296-297