What Skills are Important for Team Leadership?
As you transition from role player to leader, it is critical to learn how to work through others without being a micromanager, set boundaries but still give room for creativity, and establish healthy cultural norms but still allow team members to be themselves. This is the most pivotal time in your leadership journey. To make it harder, you'll often be asked to lead and continue to be an individual contributor. Master these seven skills, and you'll be well on your way.
Vision and Boundaries
The first job of a leader is to make sure the team knows why it exists and has a clear definition of success. The leader's second job is to make sure the team understands any boundaries like time, cost, quality standards, or specific tools or techniques to be used or avoided. Is everyone on your team in agreement about what success looks like?
Motivation, Purpose, Culture
A motivated team is a key to seeing your organization's vision come to life. Your organization's purpose and culture are keys to having a motivated team. Why does your organization exist? Who does it help, and how does it help them? Who is going to be passionate about helping your customers solve their problems?
Putting the right problems or tasks in front of the right people at the right time is a core function of a leader. It's also the one area that trips up most new leaders because we are used to solving problems ourselves, not delegating them. Are you good at breaking down large chunks of work into delegable tasks and problems? Are you good at working through others to get things done?
Coaching is the process of helping teammates solve their own problems and improve their own performance. How do you help a team member think through a problem and arrive at a solution without doing the mental work for them? How do you provide corrective feedback without destroying motivation?
Meetings are an excellent tool for a group of people to collectively learn, solve problems, and communicate progress or results. Meetings can also be a colossal waste of time. Do you know how to lead meetings people want to attend?
Projects are one-time chunks of work that can involve multi-disciplined teams. No two projects are exactly alike, and there are many methodologies and techniques to manage projects. Do you know how to organize and manage projects? Do you know when one method might be better than another?
Hiring and Retention
Hiring and retaining motivated teammates is a root problem for many organizations. If you don't hire well, you will likely struggle with poorly performing projects, high turnover, low morale, and other human resources issues. Do you know how to hire people who have the right skills, are motivated, require less coaching, and work well with other teammates?
- Does team leadership appeal to you? Why?
- Do you know any team leaders? Can you interview them to learn more about the role?
- How would you rate your current knowledge and ability for these seven skills?
- If you could only improve one skill in the next month, which one would it be, and what steps would you take?