How To Be A Good Team Lead:11+ Best Skills, Tips, And Responsibilities

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Good Team Lead

High-performing teams are built around people, their skills, the right attitudes, mutual trust, and a shared purpose. However, all this comes to naught if a team is not led well. Investors evaluating startups for potential investment place a higher premium on the quality of the leadership team than the idea itself.

A McKinsey article suggests that 90 percent of CEOs are cognizant of this and plan to invest more in leadership development.

A team leader holds the power to turn a low-performing team into a high-performing one and vice versa. Good team leaders raise the team’s performance by motivating, guiding, and inspiring the team members to give their best.

Who is a Team Lead?

A team lead is a person providing leadership, guidance, and direction to the members of a team who are working together to achieve a key objective. The team lead monitors and tracks the key qualitative and quantitive performance metrics to maintain high levels of team performance. 

Besides directly contributing to the team, the team lead enables the other team members to use their skills to achieve shared team objectives. A good team lead motivates the team to work cohesively and creates a positive work environment to deliver the best possible performance. 

Being a team lead could be an official title or a delegated responsibility. However, being a team lead separates the person from the others in the team as the person responsible for managing the team’s activities and achieving its shared goals. 

What are the Responsibilities of a Team Lead?

Responsibilities Of A Team Lead
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The team lead is entrusted with extensive responsibilities, including the team’s routine daily activities. However, the key responsibilities in leading a team include

Manage Team Operations

The primary responsibility of the team leader is to oversee the efficient working of the team as a cohesive unit. The team lead is responsible for organizing resources, delegating tasks, and coordinating work for the team to achieve the mission set for it efficiently. A good team leader’s essential quality is having the foresight to anticipate roadblocks and either prevent them or plan workarounds to minimize their impact.  

Provide Guidance

A key distinguishing trait of effective leaders is their ability to guide and mentor team members in understanding individual responsibilities, provide feedback, and help see the big picture so everyone performs at their best. 

Good team leadership requires the leader to work with the team to coach them on problem-solving and maintaining the focus on the end goal. A leadership role requires the person to model the necessary skills and behaviors expected of team members. 

Maintain Transparent and Open Communication

Essential leadership skills is the ability to communicate openly and effectively – the organization’s expectations from the team, work-related updates, the team’s goals, the work progress, the team’s strengths, and weaknesses, challenges, etc. Open and transparent communication keeps everyone informed and wins the team’s commitment and trust by signaling the team that they are trusted and that all information is shared.

Facilitate & Manage Change

The constant evolution of technology forces organizational processes to change. Steering change is challenging and is an essential responsibility that good leaders do in a team. Effective team leaders facilitate change by championing change, helping team members see the need for change, and then shepherding the team through the change process. 

Motivate and Inspire

A good leader keeps the team focused on the task by providing motivation and inspiration. Team members need to see meaning in their work to feel motivated. Inspirational leaders possess the ability to raise the team’s performance, keep the team’s morale high, and keep it focused on the objectives.

Five Skills Every Good Team Lead Must Have

Five Skills Every Good Lead Must Have
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The five essential qualities and skills that every team leader must possess include:

Functional Competence

To lead the team well and with authority, the team leader must possess practical competence in the activity the team is expected to use. Whatever the leadership style, only if the team lead has available expertise will they be able to guide and coach other team members in the required skills. 

Relationship Building

Team leads not only have to perform themselves, but they also need to enable others to perform. This requires them to build relationships with their team members, other team leads, and others across the organization. Building relationships fosters trust, boosts collaboration, and is mutually beneficial to everyone in the relationship. 

Constructive Feedback

An essential prerequisite for improvement is the ability to analyze and provide constructive feedback on how things get done in the team. Good team leads give input on what can be improved as a team and as individuals. It is important not to shy away from difficult conversations in the interest of the team and the organization. Great team leads do not just review performance. They leverage technology to help people achieve goals with performance management software.

Growth Mindset

Besides ensuring that the team is performing at its best, the team lead should also keep track of the big picture. Looking for ways the team and the organization can grow by accepting new challenges is essential. Team leads are expected to drive themselves and the team to take reasonable risks and constantly strive to improve themselves.  

Ethical Integrity and Inclusion

While operational efficiency is of prime importance for any progressive organization, moral integrity in work and workplace inclusivity are equally important. Team leads need to model ethical conduct consistent with the organization’s values to set an example for others to emulate. Also, they should understand and respect the differences among individuals in the team and harness these differences to bring out the best in people. 

Six Tips to Become a Good Team Lead 

To succeed as a team lead, one must seek to improve oneself actively. The tips that one could follow include:

  • Increase Self-Awareness: It is essential to be aware of one’s strengths and weaknesses and work on the weaknesses. Modeling the right attitude and the correct behavior is the most effective leadership quality. 
  • Listen More: In addition to giving feedback, it is also essential to listen to team members and others in the organization. Listening to your team gives learning and improvement opportunities besides letting people know you value their opinion. 
  • Keep an Open Mind: Being receptive to new ideas encourages team members to speak up and come up with new ideas – driving innovation in the organization. According to a McKinsey report, the ability to seek and assimilate different perspectives is a key leadership trait.
  • Take Informed Risks: Being too much in the comfort zone causes stagnation. Taking calculated risks and encouraging others to do the same to grow is important. Learn from failures to grow as individuals and as teams. 
  • Foster Teamwork: The success of the team depends on the team working as a cohesive unit, with each member working for the team. Help build teamwork, manage team dynamics, and encourage team bonding. 
  • Monitor and Track Performance Metrics: What does not get measured does not get done. Design performance metrics, communicate the metrics to the team, and measure against the metrics. Monitor and track the metrics and fine-tune the processes as required to match the metrics. 

How to Improve Your Leadership Skills?

Contrary to popular belief, leadership skills can be acquired and honed. Tips to improve leadership skills include:

  • Display Initiative: Take the initiative and volunteer for more responsibility outside your role. Taking the initiative challenges you to learn new skills and shows your willingness to grow. 
  • Critical Thinking: Leadership requires critical thinking to anticipate both – challenges and opportunities. Develop the ability to analyze problems and put preventive measures in place.
  • Discipline: Effective execution requires a disciplined approach to work. The best ideas and strategies are of no avail without self-discipline and discipline in the team. 
  • Effective Delegation: It is important not to micromanage. Empower employees by delegating work, trusting them, and enabling them to succeed. An HBR article highlights the importance of delegation for leadership success by freeing up the leaders to focus on higher-level objectives.  
  • Conflict Resolution: Conflict is an inescapable reality of leadership. Leaders need to demonstrate firmness, courage, fairness, and honesty in handling conflict in the team. 
  • Continue Learning: Learning is an integral part of leadership. Technology and work processes are constantly evolving, and it is essential to keep pace through continuous learning. 

Final Thoughts

A perennial debate in organizations is around the sort of leadership behavior that gets a team to deliver its best performance. Although leadership is contextual and one should avoid sweeping generalizations, prioritizing role modeling, functional competence, effective communication, problem-solving, openness to ideas, results from orientation, supporting others, etc., are skills that are essential in any leader, irrespective of the context. Experience and empirical evidence suggest that these skills strongly correlate with leadership success. 

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Sonia Mahajan

Sonia Mahajan is a passionate Sr. People Officer at HROne. She has 11+ years of expertise in building Human Capital with focus on strengthening business, establishing alignment and championing smooth execution. She believes in creating memorable employee experiences and leaving sustainable impact. Her Personal Motto: "In the end success comes only through hard work".

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