Posted on Jul 6, 2013 by dave in Articles

Team Leadership - Lead Your Team, Don't Manage It

Team management in the context of setting tasks, prioritizing, monitoring progress, agreeing and setting performance measures is all relatively straightforward.

If you don't agree - get help now!

Let's talk about your true value added, let's talk about Leadership, Development, Empowerment and Having Fun

Being responsible for a team, large or small, is a serious business. Getting the best out of people takes creativity, guidance and perseverance. if our team members lose focus, fail to achieve the group's goals and objectives, we should be held accountable. What am I saying? You knew that when you took on the job. Didn't you?

Only you know your team (Or at least you should).

This article cannot comment on a special team situation you may have. However, what it can do is focus on maximizing the benefit you get every time you get together with your team(s).

Examples of Spending Time Together

  • Departmental Meetings
  • Task Force
  • Special Project Team
  • Training Session
  • Workshops
  • Team Briefing
  • Product Review
  • Customer Visits
  • Focused Improvement Group

I'm sure you can add more. However, you've guessed it - any setting where there is a sense of purpose, common goals, and a desire to achieve success by being part of your particular team.

Any of the above examples can be highly motivating, rewarding, and productive. They can also be time consuming and costly. have you ever measured how much time you spend in a 'team setting'? Have you ever calculated the cost to the business?

Wasting time and resources is definitely one of my pet hates. And, yet, I'm probably as guilty as the next person - losing focus, digressing, being reactive instead of proactive - even simply just having a bad day.

However, let's keep things in perspective.

As a team, be single minded in achieving the common goals through that shared sense of Purpose and Direction, through that shared Vision BUT don't get boring in the process.

For me, a key attribute of good leadership is having team members who

  • Enjoy being part of your team
  • Have a strong desire to contribute
  • Believe their contribution is valued
  • Want to develop the team not just themselves
  • Are recognized outside the team for their achievement
  • Have fun

All of that isn't as daunting as it may seem.

So, again, in the context of leadership and maximizing the value and benefit to be gained from a team setting, what are some of the positive things we can do as team leaders?


Publish agendas or session flows in advance with enough time for team members (including yourself) to prepare for that team session. Why not invite inclusions to the agenda.

If the session is going to be a long one, break it up into manageable sections, take breaks. Be creative, have some fun, do some exercises. I personally would not go more than 50 minutes, an hour, before taking a break.

Introduce quick 15-20 minute training sessions any meaningful and contextual topic or theme. e.g. Giving and Receiving Feedback, Brainstorming, Setting S.M.A.R.T. Objectives. Empower team members by a) Have each team member prepare and deliver the training session and b) Have another team member facilitate the training session.

Deliberately have a non-context topic or theme on the agenda but, again, one that will add value and benefit participants - e.g. invite a technical expert or different functional / departmental head to give a 15-20 minute presentation on what and why they do what they do (This can be as good as having an actual break).

Before the formal session starts, get each team member to 'dump' - get rid of all the stuff in their head that's going to prevent them from focusing on the task(s) in hand. Caution team members need to feel safe and comfortable to do this. It also needs to be carefully led so it does not get out of control. Most importantly, it needs to comply with the team's agreed ground rules that were set at the formation of the team.

Continually develop individuals - give others the opportunity to prepare and publish the agenda for the next team session, empower them to lead and facilitate the session and to write the follow-up review afterwards ( apart from anything else, it gives you a rest! ). Further development can be achieved by inviting other team members to provide constructive feedback - with the knowledge that they too will be given the same developmental opportunity and will also be receiving 'constructive' feedback.

Have fun and celebrate successes. Take time out, have a bbq, have a picnic, supply the supper when the team session's a late one.

Lead by example at all times. Show the team that your business, their business is a serious one with specific goals and expected results BUT the best way to achieve success is through ongoing individual and team development, empowering others to succeed and having fun along the way.

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