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We're talking about team leaders as the linchpins. You can hold any spot on your company or organization's org chart and fulfill the function of team leader. Some of your team leadership roles are prescribed in your position description, but some of them are less formally defined as project groups come and go, and as special assignments emerge and are completed.
The focus of the team leader role in today's post is the person in the middle of the company - either a front-line supervisor or middle manager. The reason why this individual is a linchpin is that he is a hub for communication and relationship building that is necessary to get work done.
The team leader's manager is his or her first customer, before external customers ever see the benefit of the team leader's work product. Right or wrong, the boss is the first person whose expectations need to be met. An indispensable team leader is proactive about providing information upward in the organization so his or her manager doesn't have to guess about what's happening in the team leader's area of responsibility. Communication upward about what's happening helps to develop trust in the team leader's capabilities.
Rarely is the team leader running the only team in the company. There are other functions, other teams, that are part of the process of providing products and services to customers. Resources can sometimes be shared among functional groups, or customer problems solved that cross departmental lines. There is potential to create greater efficiency in the production process and financial savings for the company overall. But without a foundation of open communication among team leaders the opportunities will not be recognized. Moreover, the willingness to collaborate is dependent upon positive cross-functional relationships.
Communication into the team
Team members look to their team leaders for several purposes. Team members need to know what is expected. They need the resources to do their work effectively. Sometimes they need someone to advocate on their behalf in the larger organizational structure, or across to other functional groups. The team leader who is effective keeps the team members in the loop, helping them to see how their efforts contribute to the larger organization's success. He or she provides performance feedback (congratulatory or corrective) so team members can continue to improve results. And the effective team leader devotes time to listen to the team members. She knows that although she is only one step removed from the immediate concerns of the front line, that one step obscures some of her view of where the problems are or where the opportunities for improvement might lie.
You and your team leaders can become even more effective at being the hub for the internal communication and relationship building processes in your business. Click this LINK for information about Summit's upcoming Team Leadership workshop series.