Being a team leader or a supervisor is a familiar job to most people. It sounds responsible and by definition, it is.
Synonyms for ‘responsible’ are trustworthy, level-headed, sensible, dependable and conscientious – all attributes one needs to run a team.
The verb ‘to lead’ means ‘to guide’ and ‘to supervise’ means ‘to oversee’, again indicating a level of responsibility. Such roles are usually the first line of management with a remit to deliver a clearly defined outcome. And as such a team leader or supervisor provides direction, instruction or guidance to ensure the team achieves its goals.
Strong team leadership is essential for a group to be successful and results in better teamworking as well as more motivated employees. Being able to manage a team effectively is critical in the current job market, where employee productivity and team outcomes are closely monitored.
Specific responsibilities will vary depending on the industry or sector, but the knowhow and the behaviours required are the same. It’s for that reason, team leadership is a great endeavour to pursue because transferable skills allow someone to have a varied career.
What Does a Team Leader Do?
We’ve all heard the term ‘born leader’ and it’s true that some people have, of course, innate abilities and empathy to step to the front and take charge. But good practice can be taught.
The name of the roles may be different depending on the industry or organisation, but project officer or shift manager, for example, are essentially the same. They both need the same level of training, some of which may be specific to that industry or organisation. But the bottom line is that responsibility and an ability to lead and supervise effectively are inherent to the roles.
Before everything, the first principle is to be a people person, someone a team is happy to follow, engendered by trust and transparency and by being someone who is easy to talk to. The most effective team leaders build their relationships of trust and loyalty, rather than fear or the power of their positions. Supporting, managing and developing team members is key to this role.
Managing projects, planning and monitoring workloads and resources, delivering operational plans, resolving problems and minor disputes and building relationships within the organisation and with customers and stakeholders outside of it is a big part of the role.
Principles for Success
Clarity in communication is important in all a team leader does, it rules out ambiguity and helps employees to focus. Similarly communication from and within the team is the most important factor in success and a team leader must facilitate this by encouraging dialogue, questions and concerns. All employees’ contributions are valuable and this needs to be conveyed and encouraged, even if their ideas don’t fit that given work stream or project.
By encouraging a team to share information, it will understand that each member is a vital cog in the machine and goals will be more easily achieved.
If you can talk, then you can listen. As a supervisor, your priority in creating consensus is to stimulate debate. People should be allowed to be heard and fear of their being able to do so must be banished otherwise poor decisions could be made. Debate will promote innovation, creativity and enthusiasm. By setting objectives, solving problems, action planning and good delegation you create consensus.
A good leader also creates harmony, encourages trust and cooperation within the team, sets ground rules and establishes team values and goals to elevate the team’s performance.
And finally it’s about leading by example, to be confident, display initiative and passion, be a good time keeper with an excellent work ethic and a flexible approach as well as be a master motivator.
It’s a challenging role, but those who become a team leader or a supervisor or a project officer, with the right application to the job, will give themselves the springboard to bigger roles with greater responsibility.
If you embark on distance learning with Asset Training you will learn these principles in depth and gain a greater understanding of the business world. You will achieve a nationally recognised Level 2 qualification, evidence of your competency to employers and further your personal and professional development.
And perhaps most importantly, you will be able to learn at your own pace and at a time that suits you without the need to attend college.