As a team leader, one is responsible for the direct supervision of a group of employees, and the management of a high-quality outcome of the team’s labor. The advice provided in this article may be viewed as common sense, or saying something already known in a different way; however, the critical aspect of maximizing a team leader’s potential is the consideration of what exactly is the task and outcome of their work.
Know your goal, not your ‘job’: Most people view their job as a standardized task; meaning, they develop procedures that can be consistently followed every day in order to complete the description of their position. High quality team leaders may follow this template, making adjustments as their keen awareness guides their sense of needs. However, if you want to maximize your potential, then you must know exactly what the hierarchy of goals is for your supervisor as well as yourself. In the chain of command, supervisors may not explain their perspective goals in a given situation. A high quality team leader will provide themselves a general concept of how their work will relate to those goals which are not directly tied to their own, and the process through which your team reaches point ‘B’ from point ‘A’ must not cause friction with any other goals or subordinate goals.
You set the bar: Team leaders working directly with employees will set the standard for the quality of work. In a more disconnected supervisory relationship, the employees at the lower-levels will not be involved in, or witness the work of supervisors. However, team leaders work directly with subordinate employees. Therefore, unlike a good supervisor, a good team leader cannot simply delegate tasks and direct them-they must delegate task, direct tasks, and merge them with their own work. A team leader who simply directs the tasks of the subordinate employees, will cause those employees to work at a lower standard. Whereas, a team leader who is constantly engaged in their own work, as well as the direction of tasks, has the legitimacy to hold his subordinates to a higher standard and motivates them to do so.
Direction: That being said, holding subordinate employees accountable to a high standard is a sensitive task. A team leader should be balanced between laid back and approachable, and enforcing high expectations. This relates back to the work ethic of the team leader. One must remember the ‘team’ mechanics of the work-tie the interests of each individual to the success of the team. This can be done through various incentives and institutional culture, but is hindered by micro-managing, favoritism and competition. There will be tensions between certain individuals that are unavoidable. Try to manage the interactions among such people; and when such situations interfere with their work, hold them accountable for the same lack of focus rather than passing judgment on anything related to the issue until the task is completed.
Thus, the critical aspects of maximizing the potential of a team leader include: understanding the needs of one’s own supervisor beyond what is directly communicated; setting the standard for the quality of one’s own team; and molding the work of the team into a machine of common interests and engagement.