Team Leader Essay

1.         Introduction

1.1. Definition of Team Leadership

In definition, team leadership refers to the leadership practices and values exhibited by leaders, governing a specific group of individuals who are working towards achieving a particular goal or objective. A team would not be able to function as a whole without the governance, authority, and effective interaction with a good leader. In this regard, leadership is a function more than a role, and can refer to both the process of leading and to those entities that do the leading. In team leadership, the role of the team leader becomes crucial, as he or she is one who facilitates the processes, the tasks, the working relationships, and the goals, priorities, needs, and achievements of the whole team. Team leadership is an important element in maintaining a good team, for it enables the group or team to effectively and efficiently work with one another, in its aim to achieve its common goals and objectives.

1.2. Team Leadership in a Particular Case

The importance of team leadership can be appreciated with the help of a particular case, wherein team leadership has been the core competence. The Sony Company assigned Toshi T. Doi in the 1980s, and he was the one put in-charge of reversing the trend of its computer products, to create a new line of small office computers. What Doi did was to create a team composed of eleven engineers and inspired them to design any kind of computer with a few specifications, thus, giving them absolute freedom. In six months, the team had created and developed a market-ready engineering workstation, which would usually take up to two years to develop. Within one year of the product's introduction in the market, it had taken over 20% of the Japanese workstation market, thus, achieving a remarkable team accomplishment (Katzenbach 2000). In this particular case, a variety of elements and aspects could be identified and recognized to be responsible for the success of the team. However, such elements would not have been integrated without the leadership of Toshi Doi. In this regard, Doi's team leadership skills have been the primary element in the success of his team.

 2.         Team Leadership: Involving a Great Leader

            2.1. Characteristics of a Team Leader

Team leadership would not be effective and efficient without the support and the exceptional skills of the team leader. Because the team leader is responsible in planning, organizing, and controlling the activities involved in the team, he or she must have a number of excellent skills. The skills of an excellent team leader include a strong leadership ability, the ability to develop people, excellent communication skills, good interpersonal skills, the ability to handle stress, good problem-solving skills, and time management skills. Strong leadership ability means inspiring the people assigned to the tasks, and requires the involvement and empowerment of the whole team. As such, the team leader must exhibit a participative and consultative leadership style, thus, providing guidance and coaching to the team. The ability to develop people means that the team leader has the commitment in training and developing the people working on the tasks of the team, thus, establishing an environment where people can learn from the tasks and experiences in the team. The team leader must be good communicators, establishing effective and frequent communication for sharing information and problems involved in accomplishing the projects of the team. Interpersonal skills must also be developed in the team leader, as it involves good oral and written communication skills, which would be essential in establishing clear expectations of members of the team. This is particularly important in empathizing with team members when special circumstances arise. The ability to handle stress is also important for the team leader must be able to act as a buffer between the team and the top management or the customer of the team. In this regard, good communication and interpersonal skills must be given emphasis. A good team leader must be an excellent problem solver, becoming critical on the problems that arise in the accomplishment of a particular task or project. Lastly, time management skills are important for team leaders, thus, involving self-discipline and willingness to delegate tasks. In terms of the delegation of tasks, this involves the empowerment of the team in achieving the objectives of the project. Thus, proper skills are needed by the team leader in order to lead and delegate responsibilities of the team (Gido and Clements 2005).

2.2. Leadership Styles

Good team leadership would not be effective without the use of different leadership styles, which would be helpful in enabling the team leader to adapt to several situations, crises, and types of individuals in a team. Goleman (2000) emphasizes six leadership styles that can be adopted by a team leader to effectively manage his or her team, namely, Authoritative or Charismatic leadership, Affiliative leadership, Democratic leadership, Coaching leadership, Pacesetting leadership, and Coercive leadership. The Authoritative or Charismatic leadership style is the most effective in driving up every aspect of climate, and is used by a team leader to motivate individuals by making clear to them that their work fits to a larger vision of the team. The Affiliative type of leadership is being used by team leaders when they try to build team harmony, increase morale, improve communication, or repair broken trust, as praise is used freely. The Democratic leadership helps the team leader to spend time getting the team members' ideas, thus, building trust, respect and commitment. However, the process of decision-making may take a lot of time, to be able to ensure that all ideas are being heard and suggestions accommodated. A team leader who helps staff understand their strengths and weaknesses is using the Coaching leadership style, thus, helping them tie these traits into their personal and teaching goals. In the Pacesetting leadership, the leader is fanatical about extremely high performance levels at all times, thus, leading the team through his or her performance. The Coercive leader demands compliance from every member of the team, where dissent is not well tolerated. Despite the number and the variety of leadership styles, it must be understood that team leadership would be most effective with the combination of a number of these leadership styles, for the use of only one leadership style is not enough to answer to the needs of team members, especially in response to problems and crises at hand.

2.3. Impacts on Members and in the Organization

Given the characteristics and the styles of leadership that can be utilized by team members, several positive effects or advantages can be recognized in relation to adapting and using effective team leadership. Advantages can be determined in using effective team leadership, most especially in terms of team members. The primary advantage of team leadership is bringing about and developing teamwork and camaraderie among team members. Teamwork and camaraderie involves integrated and collaborative work, thus, enabling each team member to work effectively and efficiently, despite individual and personal differences. This advantage also involves developing friendship, which further enables the team members to accept and recognize their uniqueness from one another. Another advantage of team leadership is the development of a team culture, which refers to the attitudes, beliefs, and behavior of the whole team that dictate their response or action towards specific situations. The development of such a culture is also defined by how the team leader addresses the problems and the difference of his or her team members, thus, the more effective team culture, the more effective the approach of the team in terms of its tasks and responsibilities. The third advantage of team leadership is developing effective and good communication among the team members and between the team members and the team leader. Developing good communication is the recognition that it is a two-way process, and is the key in the teamwork of members and the team leader. In addition, it is also vital in maintaining work ethos that involves the development of members by avoiding risk and resolving conflicts within the team. A team communicates by various reasons, such as needing to relax from a stressful task, know the person he or she is relating to, clarify specific instructions, and share ideas, comments or suggestions. In this regard, developing good and effective communication is a vital key in developing teamwork and camaraderie. Another important advantage in team leadership is building trust, which enables one to share valuable information in order to collaborate and contribute to the whole team. In building trust, the reputation of each team member must be strengthened. Another important aspect in team leadership is having a shared vision among the team, for this would help each member and the team leader himself or herself to come up with a particular approach that would be useful in achieving that particular vision or goal. Lastly, team leadership enables the team to reduce conflicts, which results from individual differences and miscommunication. In this regard, the other aspects and advantages mentioned must interact altogether to reduce conflicts and problems within the team.

            Advantages or benefits can also be observed in relation to the whole organization, for the teamwork developed within a specific team transcends to the entire organization. Primarily, with team leadership, the entire organization can effectively utilize its resources, including financial, physical and human resources. Effectively developing teamwork helps organize the available and the needed resources of the organization, thus, allocating all the needed resources efficiently. The proper allocation of the organization's resources leads to the organized and efficient operations of the organization, which results to the increase in the overall productivity of the organization. This further improves the overall performance of the organization in all aspects, thus, further influencing other teams and departments in the entire organization.


3.         Team Leadership: Role of Team Members


            3.1. Characteristics of Team Members


The responsibilities and the job of the team leader would not be successful and meaningful without the support and contribution of the team members that comprise the whole team. In this regard, the survival of the whole team lies on the teamwork of the team members, where teamwork is the cooperative effort in achieving a common goal. Teamwork, trust, cooperation and coordination are then achieved depending on its development, which involves four stages, namely, forming, storming, norming, and performing. In the forming stage, the group begins to establish an identity and attempts to define and plan the tasks that need to be done. In the second stage, the norming stage, the team members start to apply their skills to work on the assigned tasks, thus, leading to the slow progression of work. In the norming stage, conflicts between individuals have already been settled, and are brought about by a number of factors, such as the work scope, resource assignments, schedule, cost priorities, organizational issues, and personal differences. However, because of conflicts have been resolved, trust is developed at this stage, thus, increasing sharing of information, ideas and feelings. In the last stage or the performing stage, the team is now highly committed to achieve the project objectives. At this stage, each member becomes interdependent from one another, thus, becoming fully delegated and empowered by the responsibilities and authority of the team leader.


3.2. Roles of Team Members


In addition, the whole team works effectively and efficiently with the team leader at all costs. In this regard, the team leader is now described as being effective, with characteristics as having a clear understanding of the team objective, clear expectations of roles and responsibilities, and high degree of cooperation, collaboration and trust. Moreover, the team undergoes brainstorming and team building, which further develops the team through socialization and problem solving (Gido and Clements 2005). As such, the time management skills of the team are being developed, making the team more effective in managing their time and resources efficiently.


4.         Other Factors that Affect Team Leadership


4.1. Motivation


Motivation is an internal state or condition that activates behavior and gives it direction or mainly the influence of needs and desires on the intensity and direction of behavior. Several factors influence the motivation of an individual, and may include emotions, feelings, short and long-term goals, reinforcements, and the obstacles that must be overcome to reach certain goals. Moreover, factors, such as responsibility, achievement, and the job itself serve to influence and affect one's motivation (cited in Huitt 2001). Motivation, like team leadership is a crucial element in keeping an individual going and achieving his or her goals, most especially in terms of team participation. Motivation is always related to use of effective team leadership, as the motivation of team members relies on the type of leadership used by a team leader. The attitude, behavior, values, and approach of the team leader influence and dictate the work and the motivation of the team members, being responsible for the delegation, planning, organizing, and the managing of the work of the entire team. In addition, the personal desires and goals of each team member influence their motivation and performance, thus, affecting the performance, communication, and culture of the whole team. In this regard, the role of the team leader becomes crucial in meeting and exceeding the demands, needs, and preferences of his or her team member.


4.2. Job or Work


In relation to motivation, the common element among the team leader and his or her members is the job or the work being done by the whole team. In this regard, the job becomes the source of motivation of the team members depending on the type of leadership employed by the team leader. As such, scientific management of the job or work of the whole team must be implemented, thus, redefining the specialization, schedule, and tasks and responsibilities of each team member. Job serves to be also one of the factors that influence the motivation of team members, and it also is dependent on the team leadership being exhibited by the team leader.


5.         Analysis of the Case

            As mentioned earlier, the case of Toshi Doi from Sony was a good example of how team leadership is effectively and efficiently exhibited in order to achieve specific goals and objectives. From the characteristics and roles of a team leader, it can be understood that Toshi Doi was able to exhibit characteristics of a good and effective leader, based on the achievement of the whole engineering team. Primarily, he gave his team members with the opportunity for growth and creativity, having the autonomy to do what they want for the new project. Organizing the new engineering team has provided the team members to develop teamwork, through active participation on the project. The success of the team's creation or project can lead to the realization that Toshi Doi was successful in adapting to the changing situation of the organization and in effectively handling stress due to the demands of the company. Moreover, the team members, like the team leader, were also able to successfully meet the demands and the needs of the company by being creative and resourceful in developing the new project. Although they were given absolute freedom in developing the new project, they proved to be responsible in meeting the demands of the company through less supervision. In addition, they were also able to create the new project in only 6 months, which super exceeds the time schedule due for the project. This shows that the attitude, approach and behavior of Doi extended to the behavior and attitude of his team members, in becoming disciplined in terms of their work behavior.

This also extends to the motivation of the team members, being given the chance to prove themselves to the company and to their team leader. The work and the approach of the leader have given the team members the opportunity to show their skills and talents, and contribute to the success of the company. This means that the work or the job itself has become contributory to the motivation of the team members, along with the team leadership of Doi.


6.         Recommendation

            The primary recommendation for Toshi Doi is to change his leadership style when necessary, or depending on the situation or problem being faced by the team. Aside from giving his team members absolute freedom in accomplishing their tasks or projects, Toshi Doi can, if necessary coach his team depending on the need of the project and depending on the need of the team members. In this regard, the use of other leadership styles and approaches would be appropriate and effective in dealing with different situations.

            Another recommendation is to improve and enhance its channels of communication through the use of information system, which can help each member to access information, and even communicate with other members of the team. In this way, communication is always held constant and simultaneous.

            Lastly, the team members can increase their consultation, coordination and cooperation with the top management of the company, thus, increasing the support and interaction with the members of the top management.


7.         Conclusion

            From the discussion, it can be deduced that teams are important aspects of an organization, for they are responsible for performing the various functions of the organizations and without teams, tasks and responsibilities would not be delegated properly among its members. Similarly, team leadership is important for the increase in the productivity and efficiency of the organization. In this regard, it is important to take note of the different characteristics and approaches of team leaders, which influences the motivation and job performance of team members. As such, aside from the type of leadership being used by the team leader, he or she must also be able to meet the demands of the team members in terms of their work, to further motivate and inspire them to work for the organization. A good example would be the cited case of Toshi Doi, who was able to effectively and efficiently govern his engineering team in order to meet the demands of the company.

Some say great leaders are born, not made. And while there are some born leaders, many more have honed their leadership skills through extensive practice.  So, if you're not a born leader, but want to learn how to be, this article will show you what you need  to do to become the most effective leader you can be.  

Be prepared for commitment
Effective leadership is much more than simply giving assignments and direction. It requires vision, collaboration, planning and practice. And this all takes time and a lot of hard work. If you aren't one of those "born" leaders, be prepared for a serious commitment to honing your leadership skills.

Assess your personal strengths and weaknesses
A good leader excels in some areas, but also understands his or her limitations. Knowing these strengths and weaknesses will help you delegate responsibility accordingly, hire people who complement you, and know what areas you need to work on to become a better leader.

Learn how people perceive you
Good leaders have a thorough understanding of how they're perceived. This knowledge will make you better able to communicate with employees and understand what qualities you need to work on to manage more effectively. For example, if you are known as being a bit too harsh, you can work on your tone of voice and use more praise. It is often hard to know how employees perceive you, so try to observe them closely or ask them in a non-threatening way such as, "If you had to name my best and worst qualities, what would they be?" An anonymous comment box might also elicit the information you need.

Know the traits the group values in a leader
There is no one-size-fits-all leader. To be an effective leader for a certain group, you will need to understand what qualities the group values. Trust? Creativity? Organization? You should hone whatever qualities they value (ones that will also inspire them to work smarter and harder). If you don't know the answer to this question, observe your group members or simply ask them what makes a good leader. They will likely appreciate your commitment to their concerns.

Develop a vision and solid goals
Members of a group need to know what they are working toward. Your job as a leader is to work with your employees to set measurable goals with achievable milestones along the way. Your team members should know your vision for the group as a whole and for them as individuals.

Learn and practice your skills
Key leadership skills include communication, team-building, vision and planning, knowing when to take risks, motivating individuals and the group, delegating responsibility, and more. To become a good leader, you will need to practice these skills.

Know the organization
An effective leader knows the purpose and goals of his or her group, the purpose and goals of the overall organization, and the best strategies to achieve these goals. The leader understands not only how his or her group operates, but also how it operates in the context of the entire business. You should know what each department and individual (assuming your business is relatively small) does and how it affects the organization as a whole. You should also understand the external operations of the organization.

Know the industry
You should know the industry trends, major players, marketplace and other relevant information for the industry in which you work.

Make your meetings work
When you call a meeting, you need to know how to make it productive and lead to concrete action. The first step in this process is to set an agenda for the meeting and follow it. End the meeting by clearly outlining the "action items" or important points from the meeting.
Follow up the meeting with notes about what happened in the meeting as well as any specific action items and who is responsible for executing them.

Learn to communicate better
A good communicator should not only speak clearly and with confidence, but must also be a good listener. Here are a few tips to speak with confidence and clarity:
* Prepare what you have to say
This includes thoroughly researching your subject manner and outlining your speech.
* Practice
Practice your speech in front of others if possible. It might also be useful to take a public speaking class.
* Know your audience
Tailor what you are going to say to your audience. Make sure you make it clear why this speech matters to them. Also, know what they want out of a speech - do they just want you to hurry up? If so, keep it short.
* Visualize your success
* Make eye contact with your audience
* Act confident, even if you are not
* Look your best
* Be a good listener

Good listeners look for verbal and nonverbal cues from others. It is often an effective strategy to paraphrase what the other person has said to make sure you have understood correctly.

Recognize and encourage employees
One of the biggest motivators for employees is recognition for their good work and encouragement along the way. Motivate your employees to continue with a project, and then praise them as they do good work along the way.

Build your team
An effective leader usually does not, and should not, work alone. He or she should communicate with members of the team, as well as show team members how to work well with each other. All members should be encouraged to participate in the group.

Don't be afraid to innovate and take risks. An organization that neither innovates nor takes risks is likely to fail in the long run. A good leader will step out of the safe zone for a good idea.

Learn from your mistakes
Leaders slip up. Use your mistakes as a steppingstone for improving your leadership skills.

Exhibit leadership traits
A good leader is usually passionate about the organization and his or her work, exudes confidence in his or her abilities, can organizes and makes sense of complex situations, maintains high standards and inspires others to do the same, can motivate and inspire employees, and is generally looked up to as a person of vision.

Develop a leadership style that works for your team
"Situational leadership," one of the key management theories, is based on the idea that a leader should choose his style based on the willingness and ability of the group to accomplish its goals. If the group is unwilling and unable, the leader should be extremely hands-on, providing a lot of help, structure, direction and encouragement to the group. If the group is willing but unable, the leader can be more of a coach, providing direction, guidance and inspiration. If the group is willing and able, the leader can be more of a delegator. If the group is unwilling but able, the leader should focus on building relationships and motivating employees. These are merely guidelines. A leader must read the group, understand what it needs to succeed and how to make that happen, and then do it.

Practice makes (close to) perfect
Becoming an effective leader takes practice. Work on your skills. Seek feedback so you can improve. Try new methods when something doesn't work. The more you work on becoming an effective leader, the more likely you are to get there.

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