Tag Archives: how to lead a team

Team Leadership

leadership

Continuing with the theme of our previous post, one of the most prudent steps you can take to maximize the impact of a team or a team improvement initiative is to appoint a strong leader.

An effective project team leader moves the team forward and inspires team members to do their best work. They also manage many of the organizational systems needed to keep a project on track.

The roles of a team leader include the following:

  • Manage the team toward accomplishing tasks and maintaining focus
  • Take a vested interest in solving the problem
  • Build commitment to the team charter and objective
  • Develop, with the members, the project plan
  • Lead activities such as problem solving, progress monitoring and team building
  • Interaction between meetings, offering help with action items
  • Meet with the facilitator between meetings to review the previous meeting and to plan for the next meeting
  • Keep the necessary people (sponsors, functional management) informed of progress, barriers and roadblocks and provide guidance to the team based on management direction
  • Maintain documentation of the team’s efforts
  • Behave in a way that contributes to team effectiveness

An effective team leader must also possess a range of skills if they are to fill these roles, such as project management skills, communication skills, and the ability to understand problem solving as well as the differences between team members.

Continuous Improvement Drivers

Our previous post identified common impediments to Continuous Improvement (CI), noting that most “programs” tend to peter out after making a few initial gains.

Fortunately, there are specific steps organizational and CI leaders can take to prevent the downward spiral that can so easily plague improvement efforts, such as:

  • Success! The first principle is that nothing succeeds like success. So start out with carefully selected projects staffed with highly qualified people to ensure they are successful.
  • Communication! The second principle is “advertising.” If a team applies the CI methodology to great success but no one hears about it, the methodology as “the way we do things around here” will be slow to catch on. The goal is to communicate success and make sure that everyone learns from it and is ready to try for some more.
  • Rely on data! Use data to really understand the current reality and to test theories about underlying causes. The data will help you minimize the red herrings and wrong turns. People will want to substitute opinions for data because that is the way they have always worked. But the facts and data will help the team zero in on the real cause and the best solution more quickly than trial and error based on opinion.
  • Train at all levels! People readily believe that CI teams need some basic training. But team leaders need to be very well trained as well, so that they can ensure that the team follows the methodology, asks the right questions, gathers the right data, stays on track, and keeps the interest and engagement of the rest of the team. Organizational leaders should also be trained to understand their sponsorship, their role, and the soft side, making sure they meets with the teams and individuals regularly.

How to Develop High-Performing Teams

team2In a recent post we identified eight attributes that are associated with high-performing teams, and noted how team improvement projects typically out-perform individual efforts.

Consider that it is nearly impossible for a single person to possess the same amount of knowledge and experience that a high performing team possesses.  In addition, the involvement of multiple people in decision-making and implementation strengthens commitment levels, provides mutual support and promotes a sense of belonging.

But most organizations struggle with developing teams. Many teams are dysfunctional; they take too long to accomplish tasks, the work is filled with errors and waste, the costs are excessive and turf wars abound.

Some of the skills and behaviors that can help an organization develop high-performing teams include:

  • Strong, committed leadership
  • Alignment around a common purpose
  • Diligent task and project management
  • Effective communication and meeting management
  • Clear and measurable performance targets
  • The right process to achieve results
  • Hold people mutually accountable for activity and results