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Businesses often use teams to accomplish work. Business teams are used whenever there is a set of business activities that are related by a common goal and are greater than one person can accomplish.
Individuals can come together for many reasons and purposes. A set of individuals who are acting as business group will behave differently than a business team.
Team Leaders adapt to the business and team environment to ensure the team creates the performance or implements the change for which it was chartered.
Team Members must practice participatory leadership in order to be good contributing team members. Core team members take on the additional role of representing their function in all team activities.
Teams go through stages as they become acquainted with each other and establish trust. These stages lead to improved team performance.
Teams perform better when they have clear shared goals. One key element of good team leadership is helping your team establish team goals.
Roles and Responsibilities
An important attribute of team leadership is clarifying the roles and responsibilities of all team members. Every team member has an important role and is likely to be leading some of the team activities.
Tracking and Accountability
Responsibility and accountability should be aligned. When team activities are tracked and team members held accountable for results, they should first have had the responsibility for creating those results.
A major concern for many team leaders is effective team time management. The team leader must address distractions and time wasting delays. This often involves changing the habits and behaviours of team members.
When team members are changed, the team leader needs to manage both the process of saying, “Goodbye” to one individual and saying, “Hello” to another.
Sometimes teams are disbanded. This happens with all project teams and some functional business teams. During the time of team closure the team leader must manage both the technical aspects of closure and the emotional aspects.
Teams must communicate to be effective. Understanding the principles for good communication will help a team leader ensure their team is able to communicate well.
Teams rely on effective communication, yet there are many factors that can inhibit communication. When these factors are present, the team leader needs to proactively manage the team communication processes to overcome them.
Most teams have team meetings and effective team meetings are an excellent way to manage the communication processes. Team leaders are normally responsible for organizing and managing team meetings.
It is common in today’s business environment to be a member of or leading a virtual team. There are several unique challenges with these teams that the team leader must be prepared to address.
Decision Making and Conflict Resolution
Team Decision Making
Teams sometimes implode when faced with making a team decision. A team leader needs to be able to bring the team through the decision making process with a good decision and team support for the decision.
Team members will often need to negotiate with each other on tasks and activities and the team leader may need to negotiate with the other managers or supervisors of team members. The team leader needs to have good negotiation skills in order to facilitate these types of meetings.
From time to time teams will experience conflict. When the team leader or team members are able to resolve the conflict in a positive manner, the team becomes stronger and performs better.
Even the best teams will sometimes have problems with the how the team is working together. These problems often are based upon the leadership and followership traits of the team members.
Lencioni’s book, “The Five Dysfunctions of a Team: Leadership Fable” tells the story of how to build a business team. During the lifecycle of the team, it is common to face dysfunctional behaviour that must be overcome.
Absence of Trust is one of the five team dysfunctions. In this case, team members are not willing to be vulnerable to each other; they are not asking and giving help, they are not acknowledging mistakes, and they question the intents and motives of team members.
Fear of conflict is one of the five team dysfunctions. In this case, team members do not engage in conflict even when it is critical to team success.
Lack of Commitment is one of the five team dysfunctions. In this case, team members have not bought into the team goals, or they don’t understand those goals.
Avoidance of Accountability
Avoidance of Accountability is one of the five team dysfunctions. In this case, team members are not willing to confront each other about team performance; team members accept low standards and often fail to even achieve those, creating resentment and animosity among the other team members.
Inattention to Results is one of the five team dysfunctions. In this case, team members are focused on personal goals or achieving personal status through team membership than in working to achieve team results.
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