Depending on the structure of an organisation, team leaders may play a role in managing a certain group, subgroup or project. The way they perform their duties can have a substantial impact on the productivity and success of their team.
In this article, we discuss the common roles and responsibilities of team leaders along with examples of specific traits and qualities that make them successful.
What are the roles of a team leader?
A team leader is someone who oversees the functionality of a work group by providing guidance and instruction. These individuals can have many roles, including:
Manager or supervisor: Responsible for overseeing all activities within a team.
Strategist: Responsible for deciding how to approach tasks and develop a plan to accomplish them.
Communicator: Responsible for distributing information to team members and stakeholders.
Organiser: Responsible for keeping track of and structuring various tasks, employees and documents.
Goal setter: Responsible for determining the goals that members will work toward.
Each role includes responsibilities that can overlap with others. For example, a manager and communicator both include discussing strategies with a team and giving verbal directions to complete tasks.
Team leader responsibilities
Responsibilities of a team leader include decision-making, coaching, mentoring, developing the team’s skills and managing conflict. Learning these important team leader skills is an ongoing process that requires regular practise and use. Here are five important responsibilities of a team leader:
1. Coach team members
An effective team leader coaches members on achieving goals and developing necessary skills that get results. Coaching involves developing team members’ performance, offering feedback and demonstrating the desired skills and expected work ethic. A coach-style team leader works alongside its members to develop their skills.
Example: Erin’s sales team leader plans weekly one-on-one meetings with each of the individual team members. During this meeting, Leonardo discusses areas of improvement while also demonstrating effective leadership characteristics. Leonardo identifies that Erin needs help to meet sales quotas. Erin and Leonardo go through each step of the sales process and determine which points are the most difficult for her. They collaboratively come up with alternative ways to complete these steps in an attempt to improve Erin’s sales numbers.
2. Develop team strengths and improve weaknesses
It is also 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 required tasks to the appropriate person. It’s also helpful to determine areas of opportunity and the appropriate steps to improve on them.
Example: Tanya is in charge of planning the upcoming fundraiser. She first sits down and considers the strengths of each team member. She uses these strengths to delegate each of the required tasks. Tanya is aware that Jennifer struggles with budgeting. She also knows that Jennifer has requested the ability to develop this skill, so Tanya assigns the task to her along with Jordan, who excels at budgeting.
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 what they are expected to complete. Setting clear team goals and evaluating progress along the way allows teams to work collaboratively.
Example: Your organisation’s management tasked Lorna with leading a team of top salespersons to create a new training program for onboarding. The main goal of the team is to create a training session for new employees that will teach them necessary sales skills. The team identified a shared goal of completing the project. However, Lorna also identified individual course completions and the creation of sales training manuals as goals. She set deadlines for each aspect of the project and assigned individual tasks so each team member had a clear understanding of what they were expected to do and when.
Related: SMART Goals: Definition and Examples
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 where possible and resolving it when it does arise. By setting ground rules and clearly assigning tasks, you can prevent many sources of conflict. If you notice conflict, it is best to resolve it before it escalates. Meeting with both team members can give you insight into the cause of the issue. Conferring with the members as a team can give everyone the opportunity to come up with a solution that works for both sides.
Example: Suraya was beginning to feel like the delegated workload was uneven. She claimed that Luz had the easier tasks and would often make comments during sales meetings. Instead of taking up valuable team meeting time to discuss this conflict, Yuri arranged a different meeting with each individual and then one together. This method allowed the team leader to understand each individual’s concerns while encouraging communication to come up with an agreed goal.
5. Organise team initiatives
Organisation is necessary when there are multiple team members working on a single goal. Individual projects, goals, communications and important documents should remain clear and accessible. It is the responsibility of the team leader to organise team meetings, topics of discussion and the progress toward the goal.
Example: Dina uses her strong organisational skills when managing her team. She gives team members plenty of notice for upcoming sales meetings. She prepares for each meeting by creating an outline of the most important topics to discuss. During the meeting, Dina closely follows this outline, keeping everyone on topic and completing all of the necessary talking points.
Read more: 10 Common Leadership Styles
Important traits of a team leader
Because the team leader is responsible for not only managing but also organising the workplace, resolving conflict and planning tasks, the following traits are important:
Verbal and nonverbal communication skills: Communication is crucial when working with and leading a team because you will have to communicate with both your team and your supervisors. A team leader communicates in a way that is clear, effective and directive.
Organisational skills: Organisation is important when you have multiple team members working on one project. Strong organisational skills will help you monitor progress and keep team members motivated.
Ability to delegate: Team leaders must delegate tasks to individual team members. This requires the team leader to trust in the abilities of the team.
Integrity: Team leaders should lead by example. A team leader who has integrity is not only more likely to be trusted by their team members, but also will often be respected and appreciated by the team.
Confident work ethic: Team members often mimic the work ethic of the team leader. Displaying confidence in the task and the team itself can help to instill confidence in team members.