What it means to be a leader and what roles team leader should be able to carry?
Roles of team leader:
Leaders possess different role in order to execute their job effectively. Here are ten of them with examples of where it could be used.
1. Decision maker
- Different leadership styles can be used when leading, but even if leader uses democratic approach, the last decision will be from the leader. The group might have an effect to what the leader decides, but before leader makes the decision – no further actions will be taken. This role is very important, because the leader takes all responsibility for the decision. That is why only people with a certain skill set and a reasonable amount of experience become team leaders. Sometimes and specifically in the uniformed public services, decisions the leader makes are very important, because someone’s life can be at risk.
- In Armed forces, squad leaders make important decisions while fighting in a battle. They rely and base their decisions on a lot of factors, plans and strategies. They need to decide and tell the squad when to fire shots, attack enemy base or perform any other function. If decisions like that are calculated incorrectly, someone from your team or public can be put danger.
2. Communicator role
- For team to achieve success or achieve effective performance the leader has to be able to exchange the information with the group and be effective at doing it, because it is the main person that team relies on. Whether it is instruction or important information that everyone needs to know. Team leader has to be always accessible in case if someone from the team wouldn’t understand instructions or have valuable information or experience to share.
- Briefing before drug raid in police service is a good example of leader presenting effective communication skills. During the briefing the leader gives as much information about the raid as possible like few examples: (main suspects, roles and actions every team member will execute, rules and factors, safety and others). Leader has to effectively deliver all this information to the rest of the team, so they could have understanding about the mission.
- Motivating team members can be very beneficial to the leader and the whole target objective, as it can improve team performance. Every individual in the team can have different reactions to motivation. Some people are easily inspired and others can take more effort to motivate. If team performance is outstanding, the leader wouldn’t necessarily focus on motivating them if there are more important tasks to do, because too much unnecessary motivation can become a distraction if team is already focused and produces good results. But if team struggles to keep up with the task then motivation comes in handy for the team.
- As motivation is most used and is most effective during hard or very challenging times – leaders inspire their team to get that distinction in their performance if something important is at stake. In 2011 London riots, riot police had limited resources, they had to stand for long time in riot gear and some couldn’t even go to drink or eat, because if they would leave their position, rioters could go uncontrollable. So riot police squad leaders couldn’t do much as just to stand with their teams and provide mental support – not to give up.
4. Team member
- Individual that holds leader role carries more responsibility than other team members. But even if leader makes final decisions and assigns roles to other people – is still a part of a team and has to work or provide as much input to the task as possible.
- Army squad leaders lead the team, give orders and instructions, but still always go with the team and perform similar functions. It is just that leader has additional responsibilities. The squad is mostly always together, but leader is the main brain of the team that makes decisions.
- Manager role is mainly to see the bigger picture of the situation, so leader could analyse and evaluate. This helps to plan strategies and think ahead of events. It creates bigger chance to succeed, because someone in the team at certain time plans while other team members can carry on working on the task. Also as a manager, leader evaluates the performance of team members, so it makes easier to assign tasks dependant on level of difficulty or other factors. Leader can also need to manage specific documents and reports related to team goal.
- Police drug raid squad leader fills reports and information to be presented to local news. Leader carefully sorts out information that needs to be classified and information that could be for public to know. This is quite important responsibility for the leader, because if there is more drug dealers related to the same case and leader tells news reporters that they have information about the other drug dealer it could be a potential warning for him to hide somewhere else.
- Leader needs to have ability to instruct the team and explain what they don’t understand. Demonstration aids verbal instructions and helps team to understand them easier. There are many methods that can help to be more effective while carrying out instructor role as a leader like: involving team members and letting them to practice and use of media (presentations, video, images etc.).
- The team leader is usually given the role to instruct for example briefings, because only leader knows his team very well and can explain in a way that they understand. It also depends on how much time leader spent with the team, but if team is very cohesive and had a lot time of working together – leader will have no problem delivering the instructions. Most of the UPS have briefings. One of them is Armed forces that usually have a briefing before an important mission or operation.
- Usually leaders have more knowledge and experience than their team members, that is the reason why they are the leaders and this makes perfect sense. So leaders can monitor, observe and evaluate the performance of team members and help them to improve and get better either individually or as a whole group by giving them feedback and outlining the mistakes they make. It is simply showing the correct way for your team to success. Carrying this role for the leader means that team receives needed development and gets better at performing.
- Army drill sergeants can feel very loud and aggressive. They put recruits under pressure, so they get used to it. Because serving in army is not easy and they know that. This is why they start to build up the mental and physical strength from the first days. During the drill, sergeants will always point out the mistakes that soldiers do and will tell them very clearly if they need to speed up a little or do push ups. It might feel harsh, but they are actually doing a favour by coaching this way.
- Sometimes things don’t go as planned and leaders need to put their creativity and flexibility in to work on the spot, to find a way out of the situation. Or leader could invent new things like techniques or methods that could have potential improvement to performance and deliver them to team members. This means that leader cares about the work and the team, to achieve better performance.
- Fire Brigade team leaders often need to be innovative, because their job involves difficult environment like building that is on fire. And if there are difficulties in going in, because doorway is blocked, leader needs to find another way for team to get into building and rescue the people that are dying.
- Having plan is very useful and leaders are the ones responsible for plan to be in place. Leaders are the ones who see the big picture of situation and events. This really helps to create strategies ahead and can have effect on the mission outcome. Sometimes all the team members collaborate in planning, but because leader probably is most knowledgeable in that specific area (because of training or seeing the big picture while other team members are busy working), will have the majority of the input. Planning for the leader means a lot, it is related to decision making. A plan is responsibility that can lead to failure or success for the team, so leader should spend some time on the plan if situation allows it.
- Planning depends on different factors like urgency of a task or environment that leader plans in. If it is quite office room and there is plenty of time, leader can access all information needed and have polished plan while in environment like battle field where team needs to go out of there as soon as possible – outcomes will be different. Army squad leaders sometimes have to make a quick plan of how to deal with unexpected or how to escort injured squad member trough field where shots are fired.
- Leader is the one who steps up and shows initiative to get things done. Have more roles and responsibilities to be carried out and is the main anchor that team members relies on. To carry this role is very important as without having strong positive leader – the whole team could feel not confident about what they are doing and have doubts. This would have major negative effect in performance. Being team leader means creating a bond and cohesion with your team members, so leader could know the skills, knowledge, experience and capabilities that every individual in a team possesses. Then all the other roles goes in like managing, assigning the tasks etc. but only if leader knows team well he could make effective decisions.
- Fire-fighter teams usually are very cohesive and know each other very well. Fire-fighter team leader can make effective decisions, because all the skills and capabilities that individuals in a team possess are known to the leader. Then task assigning becomes very easy like (John will climb the ladder, because he is very talented and quick with climbing it and I know he will be the best suited for this particular situation). Leaders base their decisions on the factors of situation and experience of their team members to achieve best performance.
All these roles are important in one way or another and they are carried out along each other in order for leader to be successful and effective. In different situations some roles are more important than others, so evaluating the situation and deciding what roles you will carry out can help to understand what you are doing.