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Effective team leader - patterns and examples of behavior

What behaviors characterize an effective team leader? How to be one?

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Effective team leader – patterns and examples of behavior

Growing competition, new business trends, legal changes, dynamically changing macro- and micro-economic conditions… All this makes organizations more and more often decide to implement projects which will allow them to adapt to the changing environment. This naturally generates the need to appoint effective team leaders.

Their task will be to lead projects in such a way as to ensure competitive advantage on the market and eliminate negative factors that threaten the functioning of the company.

Experts believe that the attitude of a team leader is crucial to the success of a project. The characteristics of an effective team leader determine how a project is conducted, and often determine its success or failure.

Effective team leader joking with the employees.

Characteristics of an effective team leader

An effective team leader should have:

A clearly defined purpose

An effective team leader has a clearly defined goal. This goal is set using the SMART method, meaning it is specific, measurable, attractive, realistic and time-bound. The team leader has a clear understanding of what the project goal is and is able to communicate it to the other team members.

  • An example of a goal for a marketing project might be: increase website traffic by 22% by the end of 2024.
  • For an optimization project the goal might be: to reduce the number of defects in the form of scratches on the glass panes on production line D by 28% by the end of 2025.

Plan for achieving the goal

A good team leader devises a step-by-step path to achieve the goal. In doing so, he or she prepares a plan from which to plan the resources needed to achieve it. At this stage, questions such as:

  • “Who do I need on my team?”
  • “What financial and non-financial resources do I need to accomplish each task?”
  • “Who are the project stakeholders? What impact will they have on the project?”

Appointing the right team

The composition of the project team is an extremely important part of the project. The role of the leader is to establish an interdisciplinary team. Team members will vary depending on the type of project. In the case of process optimization projects, it will be necessary to have someone directly involved in the process. This may even be a production employee. Who knows the process better than that person?

NOTE: After appointing project team members, do not forget to agree with their superiors on the scope of participation of particular persons in a given project. Tell them about the assigned responsibilities and tasks you have planned for the team member.

Plan the start of the project

Inform the stakeholders about the start of the project. Take care of the visualization. Put up a big information board in the project area. You should write what the project is called, what its purpose is, show the project schedule, identify the project team.

NOTE: Leave space on the board for non-team members to offer comments and ideas. Some ideas may turn out to be very good and the team may not have thought of them before.

Project schedule

The leader (often with the project sponsor) determines the project completion date. This usually determines the time frame of a particular project. The leader’s job is to lay out the various tasks in the schedule in such a way as to achieve the goal.

NOTE: Don’t forget to indicate milestones in the project.

Coordinated tasks

If in order to perform a specific task – for example, testing on a production line – it will be necessary to stop the production process, it is necessary to plan this action. This requires coordination of several activities – first, plan a safety stock for the period of production downtime. Secondly, provide work for employees who work in the area covered by the tests.

For example, ask for support from the engineering department to organize Machine Day or 5S activities. Thirdly, inform the production department, area manager and planner about the tests.

Management skills

An effective team leader has the right competencies to manage the team in an effective manner. You need to know that tasks will only be done properly if the team member understands what they are supposed to do and if they are provided with the right resources to do it. If necessary – describe in detail what you expect, give directions, visualize. Working with a flipchart can be helpful in this case. Conveying information through drawings or diagrams can be a more effective form of communication.

Monitor the action plan – praise for timely completion of tasks, provide adequate support in case of failure to complete them. Motivate to work. Be an inspiration to others.

Ability to solve problems

In every project, problems arise. The trick is to solve them effectively. To this end, many methods have been developed that make it easier to look for the root causes of problems and help identify appropriate actions.
Don’t forget to be creative – creativity in problem solving is key. And don’t look for shortcuts – what was the best solution in the past may not necessarily be the best solution today.

Examples of methods to help you solve problems effectively are:

  • Factor Tree Analysis, Ishikawa Diagram, Brainstorming, Pareto Diagram – you will learn more about these and other problem solving tools in this course.

Comfort of work

During the project it is worth taking care of the comfort of both the leader and the team members. Unsuitable conditions may result in a situation where activities cannot be carried out or are not carried out properly. If the team feels comfortable in its environment, it will be more effective and the solutions will be better.

A system for maintaining the developed standards

An effective team leader ensures that project results are maintained. This requires developing appropriate standards, setting rules, and monitoring compliance.
Remember that just communicating changes will not be effective. You must ensure that you do not return to the starting point after you complete the project. In order to do that (especially right after the end of the project) visit the area where the changes took place. Check whether the standards are being followed, make sure they become new habits.

Lack of post-project monitoring is one of the most common reasons for failure.

An idea for celebrating success

You should properly summarize a successful project! Remember to present the results to the management team. Tell about the course of the project (the project board mentioned above may be helpful here).

NOTE: Don’t forget to emphasize that the success was achieved thanks to the work of the whole team – not yours! This distinguishes a good team leader.
An important part of completing the project is also to celebrate the success in an appropriate way and give additional benefits to the team. These can be diplomas with thanks, vouchers to restaurants or stores, company gadgets or bonuses to salaries.

Lesson Learned Card

The leader’s task will be to complete the Lesson Learned Card with the team.
Describe the project, point out its strengths and weaknesses. Write down what helped to achieve the goal and what was an obstacle. If there were obstacles – write how the team dealt with them. Lesson Learned Card is valuable knowledge for other project teams.

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Project Life Cycle

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