FAQs on Teams and Leadership – Part 3

I have been researching and applying responsible leadership, teamwork, and change for 26 years all over the world, and I often get asked the same questions.

This is the third post of a 5-part series in which I address the most basic, and the more involved, questions that I’m frequently asked about teams, teamwork, and leadership.

In my first and second post, I answered these questions:

  1. What is a team?
  2. What are the basic principles of teamwork?
  3. Are there different types of teams?
  4. How is a team different than a group?
  5. Who can be on a team?
  6. How does a team form?
  7. Why is trust important to teams?
  8. Can one person make a difference on a team?

Here are my answers to the following questions:

  1. What is leadership?
  2. Who can exhibit leadership?
  3. Should teams have an assigned leader?
  4. Shouldn’t the technical expert be designated as the team leader?

9. What is leadership?

Leadership is any behavior that moves a group closer to its outcome. Thus leadership means taking responsibility for a situation problem, or opportunity and taking action. This is why we know it when we see it but find it nearly impossible to define.

10. Who can exhibit leadership?

Anyone. Anytime. It’s leadership behavior that’s crucial to teams, not an assigned leader.

11. Should teams have an assigned leader?

It depends — assigned leaders don’t necessarily provide leadership. Whether a group becomes a team depends on how people view potential individual and collective outcomes. Therefore, groups may be better off not having someone in a position of designated authority — unless that person’s team orientation skills are excellent.

On the other hand, if the group’s sponsor operates primarily from a hierarchical paradigm, assigning a leader will ensure that someone may at least be accountable for something. It’s unlikely in this case that the group will become a team, however.

12. Shouldn’t the technical expert be designated as the team leader?

Assisting the transformation of a group of people into a team often has little to do with technical expertise. In some cases such an assignment may be a misguided request of otherwise excellent technical talent.

Check back (or subscribe) for additional blog posts that answer these questions:

  1. What is the difference between “leadership” and “leader?”
  2. How is a leader different than a manager?
  3. How do I start a team correctly?
  4. How do I get someone to do what he or she agreed to?
  1. How do I get someone to trust me?
  2. How do I get meetings to start on time?
  3. How do I work with someone who doesn’t believe in teams?
  4. How do I motivate someone who doesn’t report to me?

Christopher Avery, PhD, is a recognized authority on how individual and shared responsibility works in the mind and an advisor to leaders worldwide. For more on topics discussed in this post, consider his executive report Responsible Change, and download the Responsibility Process™ poster PDF in a more than a dozen languages. CEO’s desiring a culture of ownership may want to investigate the proven Managed Leadership Gift Adoption program.

Posted in Ask Christopher Avery, Leadership on 06/20/2012 05:30 am
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