Skills necessary for leading teams and leading individuals are quite similar, but when with teams, successful team leaders apply them differently. Three core skills drive team leader success. First, leaders intentionally create a collective, shared understanding of the mission and vision. Second, they intentionally leverage unique skill sets across a diverse group of individuals. Third, they assure the team’s work is orchestrated to create a collective accomplishment.
Creating a shared mission and vision begins with a purpose conversation. Wise leaders assemble the team to answer two key questions: ‘we exist in order to accomplish what?’ (mission); and ‘we will know we’ve become wildly successful when what is true?’ (vision). The process requires that team members massage the answers until they have shared agreement that the statements clearly articulate both purpose and success.
People naturally gravitate to work they enjoy and in which they have had previous success. Leveraging their unique skill sets requires the leader be aware of each team member’s strengths relative to the project mission. The reality: even when the same group of people is assembled around two projects, individuals rarely hold the same role in both projects. The wise leader taps into the unique passions and interests of each individual, shaping roles and processes to leverage those for success.
Now the hard work of overseeing success begins. The leader’s role is keeping the team’s work, resources and conversations synchronized to the plan. This is especially important when team members report to disparate departments or are located in a variety of locations. Intentionally fostering an environment where team members collaborate demands the leader maintain a bird’s eye view of the work, processes, communications and results. From that vantage point, the leader guides team huddles and facilitates course corrections.
What critical project in your organization would benefit from applying these three leadership strategies?
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