Learning how to lead a team is essential for any business or nonprofit environment. Team leadership can be rewarding, but it can often bring soul crushing discouragement as well. I’ve read many leadership books that focus on individual practices and character traits of leaders. Many leadership training programs and consulting firms zero in on exactly the same things. The overall lessons of these materials emphasize the fact that great leaders are not driven by personal agendas, nor propelled by their egos. They learn how to accept responsibility. They seek constructive criticism and make good notes so that they might improve themselves. The best leaders have clarity about their goals. They remain focused and yet fluid during unforeseen changes. They keep the lines of communication open with their teams. But, successful team leadership goes far beyond an individual’s personal discipline.
1. Successful Team Leadership Is Based On Interdependence
A team is a group of people who have the skills required to complete a job, task or project. They work toward achieving a common goal, mission, and purpose. In order to make progress, there must be organized efforts. Teams only operate well when they are interdependent. It is the key to success. Lose the interdependence and failure is imminent. Team members need a clear understanding of the overall goal and of each member’s role in achieving that objective. They must be given a specific task and be held accountable to complete it. There must be organization and structure if the ball is to be moved further downfield toward the goal. Creating a team is the first step to creating effective leadership. Without a team, there can be no leaders and no direction. Successful team leadership is built upon a team of people who are willing to work interdependently.
2. Successful Team Leadership Is Based On Commitment
Business settings and nonprofits with a paid staff provide more flexibility in creating and enforcing a committed environment. In these settings paid staff members can be terminated or transferred. This helps stimulate responsibility. But in a small congregation, removing or replacing volunteer staff can be a virtual minefield. Volunteer team members often cannot be removed without negative repercussions. In order for teams in a small nonprofit to be effective, they must really believe in its mission. They must believe in the plan they are asked to follow, and most importantly, they must believe in and trust the leader. But when team members fail to manage personal priorities, it can cause the entire mission of the nonprofit to suffer. Those lacking the resolve to complete tasks in a timely manner can cause catastrophic failures for a business or nonprofit. Just as a chain is only as strong as its weakest link, a team is only as successful as its weakest member. The lack of heartfelt commitment can become the major cause of irritation and discouragement. This is a primary reason many smaller businesses and nonprofits plateau, decline and finally close. Without a committed cooperation on the part of the team, the leadership devolves into a title with no real authority. It can’t make the necessary changes to ensure success. Successful leadership is built and sustained upon a diverse team of genuinely committed individuals.
3. Successful Team Leadership Is Based On Ownership
The only real measure of a leader is whether they are effective or ineffective. In the same way, the real measurement of a team is whether they win or fail. So then, both successes and failures are a team effort. The fact is that every team and leader will fail at some point. They must take ownership of their own failures and make the necessary adjustments. There can be no finger pointing or blame shifting. Just as there are no perfect leaders, there are no perfect team members. Regardless of a leaders experience, they don’t have all the answers. Leaders and teams are fallible and can make huge mistakes. But, it’s only through owning those mistakes that the greatest lessons are learned. During these times both teams and leaders can grow. If they are humbled and brought low, it is so that they might become stronger and better in the future. Successful team leadership is built upon taking ownership of, and learning from, failures so that they can achieve goals in the future.