Traits of an Effective Team Leader

By Indeed Editorial Team

Updated 30 July 2022

Published 26 August 2020

The Indeed Editorial Team comprises a diverse and talented team of writers, researchers and subject matter experts equipped with Indeed's data and insights to deliver useful tips to help guide your career journey.

Team leaders are central factors in a company's success and are crucial to motivating employees and maintaining high morale. Through clear communication, they help set goals and guide teams toward overall success. Understanding the role of a team leader and the necessary traits can help you become more effective and successful in your role. In this article, we will review the guiding traits of an effective team leader and how those characteristics help them efficiently fulfil their roles and responsibilities.

What Is A Team Leader?

A team leader is a person focused on leading a group or team by providing encouragement, focus, guidance and instruction. They serve as a resource for teams to help guide projects, communication and often professional development. Some other terms often used to refer to team leaders are:

  • Manager or supervisor: This individual is responsible for guiding and overseeing all activities within a team and often follows the same schedule as the team to be easily accessible for all members and present should difficulties arise.

  • Strategist: This person is responsible for developing a plan to accomplish predetermined tasks and ensuring that the plan set in place is followed to accomplish the goal or goals.

  • Goal setter: This individual is responsible for establishing the goals the team will work toward accomplishing.

  • Communicator: This person is responsible for distributing vital information to team members in an effective, timely and clear manner.

  • Organiser: An organiser is responsible for assigning tasks, tracking their completion and ensuring that employees and documents are in order. Doing so requires solid communication skills and an ability to help and teach others organisational strategies as well.

Related: 10 Common Leadership Styles

Characteristics Of A Team Leader

Team leaders are responsible for managing, organising, guiding and performing planning for teams as well as facilitating the resolution of any conflicts that can arise when people work in a group setting. The role of a team leader requires many different traits, but the following characteristics are often needed for most leadership positions:

  • Clear verbal and non-verbal communication skills: When working with and leading a team, clear and effective communication is a vital skill that can help to lead the team with ease toward accomplishing their goal or goals efficiently. To communicate with both your team and supervisor, you'll have to be transparent and direct.

  • Organisational skills: When multiple members are working toward accomplishing the same task, it is essential to keep directions, roles and expectations clear and organised. Good organisational abilities can help you monitor progress, keep team members motivated and instil a sense of trust through consistency in your actions and expectations.

  • Ability to delegate and motivate: Delegating of responsibilities requires the team leader to have established a sense of trust within the team and to be able to capitalise on each individual's talents and abilities. Appropriately delegating responsibilities helps team members feel confident and acknowledged for their unique skills.

  • Integrity: Team leaders should lead by example in order to build confidence within the team. This will help you to establish mutual respect and appreciation with each member of the team you lead. Establishing a mutual respect will instil pride in work and help each team member feel valued and safe.

  • Confident work ethic: People tend to copy or mimic the work they see others doing. By modelling a confident work ethic with high expectations and consistent results, your team members will begin to display the same confidence and expectations of themselves. When team members feel assured in their work, they are more productive and focused.

Responsibilities Of A Team Leader

The responsibility of a team leader is to establish a set of expectations, monitor progress, motivate and provide guidance and support so teams can complete tasks successfully. Team leaders are not usually tasked with employee discipline or annual performance reviews. They do, however, perform as a communicator, problem-solver and resource for teams to reach set goals. Here are five important responsibilities of a team leader:

  1. Coach team members: An effective team leader coaches members on appropriate methods of achieving goals and developing necessary skills for desired results. Coaching involves developing team members' performance, offering constructive feedback and demonstrating the desired skills and expected work ethic. A coach-style team leader works alongside their members to develop their skills and facilitates progress.

  2. Develop team strength and improve weakness: It's the responsibility of the team leader to identify the team's strengths and weaknesses. By determining which team member excels at which task, you can delegate the needed tasks to the appropriate person. It's also helpful to determine areas of opportunity and the apt steps to improve on them. This can help your team develop professionally and individually, which can lead to greater success in the future. Team members want to feel that they are progressing both as a team and as individuals, which can help the team and company move forward faster.

  3. Identify team goals and evaluate team progress: In order to measure team success, it's important to identify what success means. Evaluating goals and determining how the team will measure success can prevent miscommunication. This also gives team members a clear understanding of the expectations of the team leader. Setting clear team goals and communicating how progress will be evaluated allows teams to work collaboratively. By being clear in both the setting of team goals and the evaluation process, teams have a clear view of the target and can better reach it in an appropriate amount of time.

  4. Resolve conflict: Because teams are made up of different personalities, work traits and motivations, conflict can sometimes occur. The team leader is responsible for preventing conflict if possible and helping to resolve conflict and miscommunication when it does arise. By establishing fundamental rules and clearly assigning tasks, as a team leader you can prevent many sources of conflict. If you notice differences, it's best to resolve them before they escalate. Meeting with involved team members can give you insight and help you to facilitate an understanding between all stakeholders. Conferencing with the members as a team can give everyone the opportunity to come up with a solution that works for both sides.

  5. Organise team initiatives: With many team members working together, having an established organisation system is important to make sure communication stays open, everyone understands their role and that there are minimal disagreements. It's the responsibility of the team leader to organise team meetings, select topics of discussion and communicate the progress toward the goal.

Tips For Being A Successful Team Leader

Being a successful team leader begins with building strong relationships with your team members and being a resource for them. Some ideas and tips to keep in mind to help you be a successful team leader are:

  • Take on unpleasant tasks: Team members trust leaders who are understanding and show genuine care for others. Be sure to be equitable in the distribution of tasks and labour, especially the more unpleasant ones. Team members need to feel supported in all aspects of their job responsibilities. Helping where and when needed is expected of a good team leader. Share the responsibilities of complicated and difficult tasks to provide support to your team members.

  • Make difficult decisions: As a team leader, you'll have to make decisions based on what's best for the team. Handling problems when they occur in a fair and confident manner is best to establish trust and respect for all team members.

  • Follow the law and company policy: Being fair in enforcing and adhering to both law and company policy sets a strong example of good leadership and establishes a sense of security. Team members will know that you can be a trusted team leader. They'll feel confident in your leadership knowing that you have respect for laws and regulations. A good team leader sets an example by adhering to all organisational rules and this admirable trait is likely to be emulated by the team members.

  • Take joy in your job and stand up for members: People like to spend time doing what they enjoy. When you show genuine happiness at work, team members will likely follow. It's also important to maintain a secure relationship with team members by standing up for them when needed in order to keep the trust and be a team leader others will continue to follow. This'll help those around you feel the value of what they do and respect the time they spend doing it as well.

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