#563 Innovative Leader
Volume 11, Number 10
Leadership Role in Teamwork
Mr. Rafe is
President of Rapport Communications of Warrenton, VA, a
spokesperson-counseling firm. firstname.lastname@example.org.
He is author of How to Be
Prepared to Think on Your Feet (HarperBusiness, NY,
many ways, you are the anchor for your team as well as its leader.
Your position brings with it a high level of responsibility and
accountability. It also provides a great opportunity to contribute
to the organization's success in ways far beyond the application
of your management and administrative skills. You are in the
best position to help the group fulfill its objectives.
of your job is to help the team plan, build them into a cohesive
working unit, motivate its members, including yourself, adapt your
personal style to the team's needs and preferences, and
communicate effectively. Let's look at each of these five
help them anticipate their future, set goals and objectives, and
develop a plan that will get them there. Help them concentrate on
tasks that will drive the team’s goals and objectives while
avoiding distractions. Another important part of your job is to
help each of the team’s specialists perform effectively and
integrate their particular skills with those of the other members.
also includes scheduling time with one or more team members to
learn how well they are fulfilling expectations. Doing so enables
you to remain current on all aspects of the project and consider
input from all sources and angles. This timely information is
critical to knowing whether to stay on the same path or shift
of good teams worth together interdependently to lighten one another’s
load and to make work more pleasurable. You have to consider
yourself not just team leader, but team member.
key purpose of most teams is to help the organization focus on
specific objectives and help bring about and build a consensus
within their area of responsibility. Good teams also contribute to
improved communication and understanding. By working together
toward common goals, they have the opportunity to help foster
camaraderie, improve productivity, and increase members' commitment
to the recommendations they make and the actions they take.
team leader, your members need your motivational skills both
with the team as an entity, and with each of its members as individuals.
Successful motivators know that good workers respond better to
carrots than they do to sticks. However, much bad information
continues to circulate about what actually motivates and
what doesn’t. You have seen the lists: money ranks low,
listening is high -- that kind of thing.
aware of differences in personalities and individual drives.
Different people’s needs are satisfied at different
levels, and in different ways. For example, John is quiet, keeps
his own counsel, and rarely interacts with others. In fact,
he’s admittedly not comfortable with all the “touchy
feely” aspects of team play. To him, the project is everything.
It would seem logical, then, that he would respond differently
from Jenny to the same motivators if Jenny is outgoing, enjoys
talking things out with others, and puts people considerations
as a higher priority than project concerns.
say, your motivator were verbal praise, perhaps John might be
embarrassed at being “singled out” in front to the group to be
told he did something particularly well. He might react by
saying, “I’m just doing my job.” Jenny, on the other hand,
might be particularly pleased to hear you praise her before her
colleagues. In fact, she might use the moment to share the good
feelings with the others by saying how they also contributed.
need to affiliate is a more-fundamental drive than the need to
achieve or lead. It must be satisfied -- again according to each
individual’s own personality.
members may welcome opportunities to share leadership and
that’s what makes free-form, rotating leadership a popular
concept. They also like to achieve. And they like to be recognized
as confident, competent and intelligent. Thus, here’s a
sure-fire way to motivate them at this level: Simply give them
ample opportunities to practice their leadership skills as you
guide them toward actions that fulfill these criteria.
team members enjoy reinforcement more from what they
do than from what others
do. They enjoy activities that enable them to fulfill their
potential, to do things for the challenge, to be stimulated
intellectually, to be creative, to satisfy aesthetic needs and
interests, and to acknowledge and accept reality.
people are certainly not candidates for a happy-face,
”Badge-a-Minit (c)” button reward -- or even a certificate
of achievement. In fact, if the wrong person praises them, they
may perceive the effort as condescending or even an attempt at
as you can see, motivating others effectively depends largely on
your knowledge of each individual as well as his or her personality,
style, ambitions, and personal needs.
are unique; you have specific skills that address your
organization’s perceived needs and attracted its leaders to
hire you. You also have a style of working with others that most
likely has become an established pattern in your life. To the
extent that your style of doing things fulfills the needs of the
organization and its members, you will be successful. To the
extent that it needs some fine-tuning, the good news is that you
can change as long as you: 1) desire to change, 2) acquire new
“tools” to help get the job done, and 3) have the opportunity
to use those tools.
communication brings life and meaning into all we do. Effective
communicators spend at least 50% of their time listening, 30%
helping others express their views more clearly, only about 10% of
their time telling others what they think, what to do, or how to
do it -- and the other 10% wondering how to do it better next
good leader listens "care-fully,"
that is, with care and fully. Once you signal through your words,
voice tones, body language, and facial expression that you are
ready to listen, show patience as the speaker expresses himself or
herself. Do this no matter how long it takes the other person, and
regardless of the importance or priority you may assign to the
subject. Spend an extra minute now to listen care-fully,
and you may help avoid most of the conflict or potential conflict
that might otherwise occur when “nobody listens.”
team members' trust by remaining open, non-defensive, and
nonjudgmental to whatever they say. When supervisors ask you to
take actions or positions on behalf of the team, be sure you agree
only to what you can deliver appropriately. Go out of your way
to provide members with both scheduled and informal opportunities
to give you input and feedback. Doing this helps maintain a
balance of two-way communication: When you have listened to
them; they will be more likely to listen to you.