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Skills or responsibilities that a team leader must possess

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I have identified four skills or responsibilities that a team leader must possess in their day to day skill set.

1. Integrity

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To build a good team the team leader first needs to gain the full trust of the organisation as a whole and, more importantly, members of the team ensuring that there is no bias to any member(s) of the team. Fairness is the key, treating everyone equally and on merit, not taking the glory for all the teams’ successes and portioning the blame to the team for failures.

Ultimately the team should share the praise and the team leader should accept the responsibility for any failures on the teams behalf.

“… Praise loudly, blame softly.” (Catherine the Great).

If the team leader has a good reputation in the organisation for always doing the right thing, in a fair manner, then that level of value will be assigned to the team as an entity. If however the team leader has a questionable reputation then either the team is “tarred with the same brush” or a single or subset of trusted team member(s) are likely to be identified and approached to carry out tasks, undermining the team structure and team leader’s role.

Integrity and honesty must be given to the team members as well. If the team leader is not consistent in their dealings with individual team members showing morality and honesty then their integrity could be called into question.

2. Confidence Positivity

A team leader should always try to portray a positive persona, enthusiasm is contagious. Team members will look to the team leader for direction. If the team leader is negative about a task or project then this will propagate through the team. The team leader should motivate and inspire team members by setting a good example or role model.

Much like the requirements of positivity, the team leader needs to show confidence in many factors. Confidence should be shown in the staff and their abilities, skill sets and decision making. If the team leader can bestow faith in team members to do the job, given time and opportunity, everyone can achieve more than they expect or than is expected of them.

Staff will feel more at ease following the lead set by the team leader if that lead is positive, confident and has clear direction. If decisions are made in a clear, definitive manner, without dithering or back tracking, confidence in the team leader will grow, in their leadership, decision making processes and their integrity which are all vital.

3. Communication

Communication comes in various guises including but not limited to listening, feedback, meetings or electronic information transfer. The communications should be direct, honest, and concise, describing the action that needs to take place and giving the team all the specific information necessary including the “who, what, when, where, and how” of the situation.

Listening to team members and others within the organisation, really understanding what those people are trying to convey and showing them that you understand is imperative. Listening and understanding does not mean necessarily agreeing with everyone – understanding is different to agreeing. Being seen to empathise with someone promotes trust and willing cooperation in the task in hand and provides stronger working relationships for future.

Team members input and ideas should always be valued, ensuring negative responses are avoided. Suggested ideas could have been attempted in the past but failed, consideration that it may not have been executed properly or that it simply was not the best time should be made. Each and every idea must be considered on its merits and encouragement given to the team to communicate their insights on a regular basis. Overly criticising ideas or immediately discounting the ideas of others will result in the team hesitating to sharing anything in the future and you could be missing the perfect solution.

Providing feedback can be a difficult skill to master but both good and bad must be communicated. It is hard to receive criticism, but if positives are highlighted as well it makes taking the negative a little easier and provides a suggested way of improving for the future for the team member.

4. Awareness

It is important that a team leader learns how to involve all members of the team and it is within the team leaders remit to take decisions and impose them on the team. For a successful team leader it is imperative that they encourage active participation from the all of team promoting better outputs and then team members will enjoy being a part of the team.

If the team leader is fully aware of each team members skill set, either professional or personal, then the task of assigning roles becomes easier. Part of the role of a team leader is assigning roles to most appropriate team members. A simple four step process can help determine who should be doing what in the team. The four steps are to identify tasks, identify required skills, identify team member skills, and assign roles. Applying this straightforward, logical process will help you take a holistic and effective approach to assigning team roles.

Firstly identifying the tasks by considering the deliverables will help the team leader to solidify the understanding of what the team needs to accomplish. As the tasks are identified, the key activities become apparent in terms of roles and tasks. Identifying the teams’ strengths will help the team leader assign roles based on the tasks to individual team members according to their skill set.

Two examples of problems a Team Leader would have to refer to a person with higher authority

1. Recruitment

A team leader could be involved in the recruitment process of a team member but the ultimate decision to recruit a new member of staff would fall to the line manager or senior management. The team leader would offer advice on skills gaps in the current team environment and requirements for future, and may also be part of an interview process in a minor role. Ultimately the team leader acts as an advisory role in this situation with the eventual decision on whom to employ being with the Manager as they have the required authority.

With problems such as staff shortfall the manager may reallocate staff resources from alternate teams as they have a more high level view of staff and resource allocation, something that the team leader would not have the authority to do. The team leader would offer only advice and points of view on these changes.

In respect to the training requirements the manager, not the team leader, would be able to assign budget funds from specific budgets depending on the requirement for the training need. If the training is to cover a skills gap for a new procedure or function being introduced as part of a larger project then the training need could be paid for from this budget. The manager may have more than one request for a budget spend and will need to prioritise each budget spend requests as appropriate, again something that the team leader would not have the authority, or be trained to do.

2. Budget Decisions

Once again the team leader is in a position to evaluate and advice of the needs that are required from the team by the organisation and identify potential training requirements, skills gaps, of individual team members’, short falls in staff resources for workloads etc. This is as far as the team leaders’ level of authority allows, only the manager or above can authorise the allocation of budget resources to satisfy these requirements.

The team leader would present information to the management structure, possibly in a report or from appraisal outcomes, to identify the needs and the management would then decide the best course of action. Feedback on own performance

To gain feedback on my performance I regularly have a one to one session with my line manager, and annually have an appraisal. An example of both can be found in appendix 1 (one to one) and appendix 2 (appraisal).

During both sessions I have the opportunity to discuss issues or problems that I am experiencing in my working day and it also gives me the opportunity to receive feedback on my performance. The appraisal form is designed in such a way that it provides the details for a SWOT analysis.

From this information, and reading between the lines of some of the comments I can identify one of my strengths as being able to prioritise my time and delegate tasks to other team members as required. I am involved in a number of high profile projects at the moment each requiring my resource. I have looked at the skill sets of the other team members and allocated certain tasks to them firstly to allow the individual projects to get the required level of support they have requested and secondly to allow a propagation of knowledge around the team to allow for a more efficient and robust support model on an on-going basis.

One area for Improvement that was identified during this process was that I have been asked to step up and provide cover for my team leader when they are on leave or not in the office. I have the technical knowledge to be able to carry this out but not the formal training to be able to carry out the managerial side of the job. I have therefore been enrolled on an ILM Level 2 course to rectify this.

Improving own Performance

A simple action plan is created during the annual appraisal which is shown in appendix 2 as a personal development plan, within which I have the opportunity to put forward any training needs that I believe I require and also my reviewer also has the opportunity to suggest any requirements that they believe would enhance me professionally and personally. Each training need identified is discussed at the meeting and a priority for this need is agreed.

The Institute of Leadership and Management (ILM) Level 2 course that was identified in the Personal Development Plan is designed to give team leaders a solid foundation for their formal development as a leader. They are delivered through a combination of online and work based learning to develop a range of leadership and management skills, both formally and through their own self-directed efforts. Programmes are split into modules, each with a blend of online learning, videos, readings, group meetings and practical activities.

The student will benefit from :
Increased team leader skills
The ability to reflect on what you do and improve it
The ability to deliver more effective results

The organisation will benefit from :
A more effective leader and manager
Tangible results from the activities and projects you deliver, both during and following on from the programme More capacity to deliver its core activities

The course is scheduled to be completed over a 12 month period and is evaluated by the course tutors via assignments on a regular basis. Personal development progress is also evaluated in monthly one to one meetings with my line management.

Establishing trust

A team leader needs to establish and maintain trust within the team. Following through on items discussed in a one to one meeting is one thing that can help this.

If during an appraisal, or one to one, the team leader and the team member discuss and agree on a course of action, a training course for example, then the team leader needs to quickly follow up on the action and ensure that the budget is available via the management structure, and the required steps are taken to initiate the beginning of the task.

If during the meeting any concerns are raised by the team member, then the team leader needs to act quickly to be seen to alleviate the concerns and put in to place procedures or measures to ensure that they no longer are concerns. Whilst following up on the concerns the team leader has to also keep a level of confidentiality about the situation to ensure that if further concerns become apparent the team member still feels the ability to confide in the team leader.

The quick and confidential follow up will prove to the team members that the team leader is trustworthy whilst working with and for the team.

Cite this Skills or responsibilities that a team leader must possess

Skills or responsibilities that a team leader must possess. (2016, Jul 22). Retrieved from https://graduateway.com/ilm-2-01/

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