Leading TeamsEffective leadership is built upon trust. In this module we explore here the ways in which you can build trust within your team and organisation. Focusing on the key issues of leadership, we describe some of the most important models and theories that have informed our understanding of what makes an effective leader, and offer a structured approach to analysing your own behaviour as a leader.
‘Leadership is liberating people to do what is required of them in the most effective and most human way possible. Leaders must be clear about their own beliefs – have thought through their assumptions about human nature – the role of the organisation and how to measure performance. Leadership is more tribal, than scientific, more a weaving of relations than amassing information.’ Max DePree, Leadership is an Art

Max DePree’s view of leadership contains no reference to a team, or management. Leadership is an essential quality for all involved in the workplace. The qualities of leadership are important for team members, team leaders and managers. More and more organisations require leadership skills from individuals. They expect team members to find solutions to problems and carry out the solutions without close direction or supervision.

To Warren Bennis, an academic based at the University of Southern California, leadership is a skill which can easily be learned by the manager. Let’s clarify the differences.

The Manager of the Past: The Leader for the Future:
administers  innovates
 is a copy  is an original
 maintains  develops
 focuses on systems and structures  focuses on people
 relies on control  inspires trust
 has a short range view  has a long range perspective
 asks how and when  asks what and why
 has their eye on the bottom line  has his/her eye on the horizon
 accepts the status quo  challenges the status quo
 is the classic good soldier  is his/her own person
 does things right  does the right thing

The dictionary defines a leader as ‘a person who rules, guides or inspires others’. By looking at different styles of leading you will be able to analyse how you yourself behave as the leader of your team.

Good leaders have the respect of the people they lead. People you have worked with who have gained your respect may have, for example:

  • made quick, effective decisions
  • treated all their staff equally, honestly and fairly
  • had a particular expertise to share
  • been willing to support you.

Key Qualities

We expect leaders to achieve far more with their teams than merely to direct and control. Increasingly leaders are expected to build teams that are open to learning. Peter Drucker said that an organisation that has ceased to learn will cease to be. Key qualities required to build such teams are:

  • leads with vision not tradition.
    The team is aligned with a vision of what it wants to become. The vision is generated by the whole team and is inspiring and meaningful.
  • the leader is a learner, not a teacher.
    The leader is aware of self development needs and is willing to learn. The leader is not committed to the ‘old ways’ as being the only sound wisdom.
  • focuses on process, not content
    The leader seeks to get the process going instead of trying to determine the content of how the group works.
  • enabler, not controller.
    The leader doesn’t try to keep control, but delegates and leaves the team free to perform. The leader shares responsibility and the authority to act.
  • coach, not expert.
    The leader helps people learn and develop skills, they always expect more of people.
  • linkers, not hoarders.
    The leader shares information across groups and links joint projects. The leader spends time seeking information and linking the team’s work with that of other groups.
  • emotional literacy, not technical skill.
    The leader understands that change is difficult and that people have feelings that need to be supported. The leader is sensitive to the needs of individuals, finding ways to create co-operation and mutual benefit. The leader encourages resistant and ‘stuck’ team members to grow.

The deeper dive self-paced study module on leadership covers:-

  • Leadership and trust
  • Building relationships
  • Leadership theories
  • A summary and further readings