The Role of the Team Leader

Every great team needs a leader, but a team doesn’t just need any leader; he or she must be the right kind of leader. Great team leaders make their mark not by controlling the team but by challenging, facilitating, and empowering team members to realize their full potential.

So what are the qualities of effective team leaders and what is their role? Robert Crosby, author of The Teaming Church says the work of the team leader is to help ensure that team members feel valued, focused, and interactive; and that they collaborate and evaluate effectively. He offers the following characteristics of the team leader:

  1. The teaming leader encourages collaboration grounded by the goal of authentic unity.
  2. The teaming leader recognizes that a team is much more than a mere group; it is an honoring circle.
  3. The teaming leader consistently studies, communicates, and affirms how everything and everyone on the team connects.
  4. The teaming leader understands and respects the paradoxes and dynamic tensions of the effective team.
  5. The teaming leader is the lead goaltender on the team.
  6. Teaming leaders don’t boss from the top down. They come alongside the team and lead by their facilitating and coaching influence.

True team leaders do not obsess over their own power and control. Instead, they find great satisfaction in using their entrusted powers to empower others and their team members.

Patrick Lencioni, author of The Five Dysfunctions of a Team describes the role of the team leader in overcoming and preventing the dysfunctions of a team.

  1. Go First – The most important action that a leader must take to encourage the building of trust on a team is to demonstrate vulnerability first. Team leaders must also create an environment that does not punish vulnerability.
  2. Mine for Conflict – It is key that leaders demonstrate restraint when their people engage in conflict, and allow resolution to occur naturally.
  3. Force Clarity and Closure – The leader must be comfortable with the prospect of making a decision that ultimately turns out to be wrong. He should not place too high a premium on certainty and consensus.
  4. Confront difficult Issues – Encourage and allow the team to serve as the first and primary accountability mechanism.
  5. Focus on Collective outcomes – The leader must set the tone for a focus on results.

Effective team leaders are gifted and skilled to tap into the strengths and potentials of the individuals on the team. They understand the strengths of each team member and know how to blend them together to accomplish shared goals. The Leading From Your Strengths profile is an excellent tool to use to do this. The accompanying Ministry Insights Strengths Wheel is especially helpful to see the combined the strengths of the whole team and their relationship.

Team leaders can ask themselves the following questions to evaluate their effectiveness: Is my leadership more about my own power or empowering the team? What could I do to better serve my team and team members? How could I challenge our team more effectively?

For additional articles related to teams, visit EffectiveMinistryTeams.com

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