Team Development: Role and Responsibilities of Team Leaders

Team development is the responsibility of all team leaders. Teams when led effectively can really deliver excellent results for a department, project team and the organisation. However, often teams hit rocks and don’t deliver. The team leader must know and understand the purpose of the team, the team's overall objectives and use the skills and strengths of the team members to best effect. Knowing and understanding the Belbin Team Roles will help you use team members effectively.

Leadership is an influenced-based relationship. John Erskine said that “In the simplest terms, a leader is one who knows where he wants to go and then gets up and goes.” Joel Barker defines a leader as “a person you would follow to a place you wouldn’t go by yourself.” Russ Finey puts forward that a good definition for a team leader is “The person who understands the ultimate project objectives, each step of the way, and who guides the rest of the team right down this path through clear vision setting and effective communication.” Different leadership styles and theories are discussed on other pages, here we will discuss what is involved in team development.

No leader or manager can achieve results alone. The results are achieved through people. Therefore, not only do you need to have the right people, with the right skills and competencies, you also need to have been motivated and ready to deliver, you need to develop your team and your people.

John Adair's Action Centred Leadership John Adair's action centred leadership discusses how the manager/leader has to focus on the Task Needs, the Team Needs and the Individual Needs to create a high performing team.

Leadership is critical to help a team succeed. Without it members will resort to their own agenda and way of doing things. Many people do not understand their role or what is involved which results in poor or lack of team leadership. The role and responsibilities of the team leader include:

  • Provide direction
  • Communication effectively
  • Facilitate group process
  • Co-ordinate activities
  • Support the team
  • Have a desire to help develop skills
  • Demonstrate concern for team members
  • Help the team maintain focus
  • Set example through behaviour,energy and action
  • Facilitate decision making

Team development is crucial for success. By constantly developing your own self-awareness and developing your strengths and the skills required you can become an excellent team leader. The folowing points will help you with your team development.

  • Have a vision for the team and communicate it. This should create a sense of purpose and a guiding light to which the team is working towards.
  • Develop commitment through building trust, inclusiveness, identifying obstacles and difficulties and agreeing support required
  • Build trust and this will lead to confidence in your leadership. Identify the unknowns and discuss openly.
  • Include everyone. To do this you need to work on inclusive questions e.g. What do you think? What is the situation with...?
  • Create plan to achieve the objectives on time and to the criteria required. Manage discussions to all divergent views to be discussed before decision making.

For more information on this area see the following pages:

Belbin Team Roles

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