I have a coaching client who was promoted from a specialist engineer to the dizzy heights of team-lead without the company investing in the skills she needed to transition from specialist to leader.
Because her boss and company did not recognize that they were promoting her into a new profession and invest in her accordingly, their accomplishment was to turn a fine and capable engineer into a poor supervisor!
- Specialists use their skills and experience to create a product
- Team leaders need management skills, a knack for problem-solving and the ability to plan and manage the work – NOT to do it!
So, what is a team leader’s skill set?
1 Balancing between leadership and management
These are two separate skills:
Leadership is communicating a common vision of a future state; gaining agreement; then, motivating others in a forward direction.
Management is results driven and getting the work done.
Your job as a good team leader will constantly switch from a leader to a manager as situations require.
2 Be a Team Builder and a Leader
The leader sets the “tone” of the team to lead them through the various team development phases to the point where they begin to perform.
3 Be a Problem Solver
Identify the possible “causes” that lead to the problem, then analyze possible options and alternatives, and determine the best course of action to take.
4 Be a Negotiator and Influencer
Negotiation is working with others to come to a joint agreement. To avoid power struggles, develop influencing skills. Influencing is the ability to get people to do things they may not do otherwise.
5 Be an Excellent Communicator
Being a communicator is a two-way street as. A good way to get a grip on managing the information comes and goes is to ask yourself the following questions: who needs this information? Who gathers and delivers it? When or how often do they need it? And, in what form?
6 Be Organized
Think of what you need to organize; project documentation, contracts, emails, memo’s, reviews, meetings, etc. It’s almost impossible to stay organized without developing good time management skills.
7 Become a Planner
The skill of planning can’t be underestimated. There are known and logical steps in creating plans. You may well own your team’s plan, but others depend upon your success.
8 Manage Budgets
At the heart of this is the skill is managing the budget, particularly costs. You will need a knowledge of financial systems and accounting principles.
If you are new to team leadership, don’t be overwhelmed by all this. There are well-understood methodologies, tools, guidelines, and procedures to help you on your way to developing the life-skill of leadership.
The first thing you need to do is book time with your boss and ask what their performance objectives are; what does he need you to do to help them be successful; and, then what professional development do you require to be successful.