Leaders must ensure that every team member pitches inand is committed to completing the task on hand.

From my interactions with many newly-promoted leaders, I find that more often than not at a junior /mid-level, one of their greatest challenges is that they have to, for the first time, lead a team of people. Often, some or all of these people may actually have been their peers in the past. That makes it all the more difficult. However, today work has become so complex and the scale so vast that the most efficient leaders and managers are those who get work done and visions translated into reality by a lot of people and not by themselves. Yes, the day of the individual contributor is not over, but very often, in organisations, those who lead large teams become more visible and powerful.

Task focus is important since the effectiveness of the team is going to be measured by the satisfactory completion of the task. What has to be done, why it should be done and how it should be done are key questions the team lead and all the team members alike will have to answer. Who does what is also important. As is the question of when, which fellow team member must be consulted or just informed. Whether the team members have all the hardware and software to perform the task is a key question. Some members may want much more than what is really needed or can be given and clear answers on these are important so that expectations are clear.

People are the essence of the team and they will, more than anyone else, define the success of the team. How do they see the end vision, do all the team members see the end vision the same way or is it like the proverbial blind people feeling different parts of the elephant and seeing different things? Do the people in the team see the task as a tick off or do they see it as fulfilling a greater purpose for themselves and for others could also be instrumental in affecting their levels of commitment.

Successful practices in managing teams try to balance the tasks and the people aspect. I have personally found many successful leaders intuitively good at the Blake and Mouton model and the Full Range Leadership model that looks at both transformational leadership and transactional leadership.

Whichever model is used, successful managers of teams spend time chalking out the end success criteria in detail so that everyone knows and agrees with it, and everyone knows who has to do what and by when. They also have regular reviews and persistently ensure the balance between the job getting done and the people, both learning new skills from it and feeling emotionally connected to the task that is done.

(The writer works with the Infosys Leadership Institute. The views represented here are not necessarily those of his employer. E-mail: pradeep_chakravarthy@infosys.com)

(This article was published on July 10, 2011)
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