Leaders to Leader

Lessons from the Great American Leaders & How They Apply Now

The Use of Teams Requires Self-Discipline

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Leaders need to understand that while teams are an effective means of creating solutions to many complex organizational problems, they are not the panacea touted by many management gurus. Many management theories that employed the team concept have been proven ineffective. Consequently, many managers have developed a biased perspective when considering the use of teams within their organizations.

The proper structure, implementation and use of teams requires self-discipline. Leaders must be aware of the major limitations and weaknesses associated with each area. Nevertheless, it is important to understand that properly structured and implemented teams do produce tangible results for organizations. They are effective tools for organizations to utilize in increasingly complex business conditions.

Related: Eleven Factors That Affect the Team Environment

An individual’s leadership, vision and direction ultimately determines the success or failure of the teams they direct. In many if not all cases, the leader acts as a liaison between the organization and team, assuring that the team remains focused on the task and the results they are chartered to produce. Teams are part of a living organization and are not working in a void: all teams operate in conjunction with other teams to efficiently meet the organization’s overall goals.

Related: There are Only Three Reasons to Form a Team

Specific lessons can be gleaned from the experiences of countless teams in other organizations.

  • Teams are not free-form organizations with an absence of regimentation; nor are they inflexible units with a rigid chain of command. Within successful teams, leadership often changes according to particular tasks assigned.
  • Effective team design requires a continuing mission in which specific tasks change frequently. Without a continuing mission, there is little or no basis for teams, except on a temporary basis.
  • A team requires clear and sharply defined objectives. It must have the ability to produce feedback based upon its performance and ability to achieve objectives.
  • Teams require leadership, which can either be permanent or shift with each major phase of a project. Within many teams, one individual is charged with designating the team leadership for each specific phase.
  • A team is not democratic. The implementation of authority is task-derived and focused. The team as a whole is responsible for the successful accomplishment of a task. Individual members contribute particular skills and knowledge and are accountable for their own particular work, but they are also always responsible for the output and performance of the entire team. This system maintains cohesion and helps people work as a unit.
  • Team members do not need to know each other well to perform as a unit; however, they do need to know each other’s functions, skills and knowledge areas. While rapport, empathy and interpersonal relations are not required for a smoothly run team, a mutual understanding of common tasks is essential.
  • It is the team leader’s initial responsibility to establish clarity of objectives and the roles of individual team members. This incorporates clarity of the leader’s role in the team process and structure.

Related: When Performance Lags, Look to the Team Culture

Excerpt: Developing a Team Approach: Pinpoint Leadership Skill Development Training Series (Majorium Business Press, Stevens Point, WI 2011) $ 17.95 USD

Timothy F. Bednarz, Ph.D. | Author | Publisher | Majorium Business Press
Author of Great! What Makes Leaders Great: What They Did, How They Did It and What You Can Learn From It (Finalist – 2011 Foreword Reviews‘ Book of the Year)
Linkedin | Facebook | Twitter | Web| Blog | Catalog |800.654.4935 | 715.342.1018

Copyright © 2012 Timothy F. Bednarz, All Rights Reserved


Written by Timothy F. Bednarz, Ph.D.

October 4, 2012 at 11:57 am

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