The First Thing a Savvy Team Leader Needs to Do

If you lead a team of people, the first thing you need to do is let your team know the full scope of your roles and responsibilities. You may think your team understands what you do, but it’s highly likely they don’t — at least not at the level of specificity that a high performing team demands. And if the  members of your team don’t understand what you DO and WHY you do it,  chances are high that they will resist, rebel, or reject your efforts all along the way. Not fun. And not necessary.

1. HOW TO PROCEED: As soon as humanly possible, get together with your team and explain the scope of your role. If you are a new team leader (and your team has some doubts about your skills,  savvy, or authority), let them know, who, specifically, in the organization, has empowered you to BE the team leader and that you take your team leadership role seriously.

Be sure to mention that one of your main roles is to be a dependable resource for the team — the go-to person to help ensure that each and every  team member enjoys their work, learns, grows, collaborates, and accomplishes their ambitious performance goals.

This just in: It is highly likely that at least a one member of your team   currently perceives you as the designated bozo — management’s tool whose sole purpose is to judge, evaluate, disturb, annoy, hassle, correct, criticize, intimidate, and micro-manage. A savvy team leader will dispel this paranoid notion faster than the Coronavirus spreads.

2. BE SPECIFIC ABOUT YOUR ROLES AND RESPONSIBILITIES: The term “team leader” is extremely generic.  Fuzzy.  Vague. And nebulous.  Simply put, it means different things to different people. Until and unless you explain, precisely,  what the scope of your roles and responsibilities are,  you’ll end up at mercy of your teams’ collective concepts, assumptions, and projections.  Not a good idea.  The best way to minimize this all-too-common phenomenon is to clearly and confidently explain to your team what they can expect from you AND what you expect from them.

Towards that end, take a look at the trigger list below — a menu of possible roles you may want to take on as team leader.  Note the ones that  describe the services you’ll be providing, then add whatever roles may be be missing. Ready?

— Listen non-judgmentally, with the intent to understand                                   — Help your team articulate and fulfill its mission
— Share your expectations
— Establish and uphold standards of excellence
— Facilitate the process of establishing team agreements
— Work with team members to set performance goals
— Observe and evaluate performance
— Give useful, humane, and timely feedback
— Coach and mentor
— Clarify team members’ roles and responsibilities
— Hold people accountable for results
— Identify, clarify, improve, and communicate team processes
— Facilitate team meetings
— Secure resources for the team
— Ensure that team members create their own Learning Plans for the year
— Promote the teams’ successes to Senior Leadership
— Establish a climate of innovation
— Conduct performance reviews
— Acknowledge individual and team successes
— Address challenges, conflicts, and breakdowns
— Do everything possible to ensure the team’s well-being

NOTE: I am not suggesting  you perform ALL of the above tasks. I am simply providing you with a list of possible roles to take on so you can get your arms and head around what you are actually going to DO as the leader of your team. Once accomplished, all you’ll need to do is communicate this to your team and get their buy-in. Are we having fun yet?

Mitch Ditkoff

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