Dynamic Teamwork Delivers

The New Team Leader

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Steps to Sustainable Results
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Supporting The New Team Leader

How many times have you seen an outstanding performer promoted into the role of management and then observed a meltdown in performance? Several years ago I received a newsletter on that topic that got my attention. It describes the situations that I have seen many times over the years as I have worked with senior executives and their management teams.

Dr. Wendell Williams wrote an article several years ago that, in my opinion, is a classic and should be included in every executive manager's library of management wisdom. He offered the following to be considered when tempted to promote an outstanding sales person into a sales management role.

People need to abandon the idea that successful sales = effective management. It never worked, does not work, and never will work. We all know this. We see it all the time.

  • Managers need to know how to sell, not be the best at selling.
  • Managers need more "smarts", better planning, different interpersonal skills, and different attitides, interests, and motivations than individual contributors do. A smart person evaluates these skills before making a promotion.
  • Past performance cannot accurately predict future performance when future performance requires more and better skills.

As you prepare for the next quarter or year, form new management teams, and appoint new team leaders, please consider Dr. Williams' comments to help the newly appointed be successful and deliver the types of results you expect and deserve. To Dr. Williams' list I would add one more item.

  • Find a seasoned executive manager to function as a coach for your newly appointed management team leader. If the new team leader is experienced, the coach will help the team come together much more rapidly. If the new team leader is inexperienced in the role, the coach will help that individual focus on their role as a team leader and build the skills necessary to develop a highly productive team.

If you are considering appointing a new management team leader, there are several critical success factors you should consider to help effectively launch the new team leader:

Selecting the Leader

The leader you select must have the DNA to do the job. Please <click here> to see our listing of six critical elements we have found present in the DNA of top team leaders we have worked with and observed over the past two decades. Get independent assessments of the ability of the team leader to carry out their role and meet your expectations for the team they will be leading.

Mission and Goals

It is critical that the new team leader has a clear vision of what their team must do and accomplish. This should be documented for the team by the team's sponsor in a written mission statement accompanied by a specific list of goals the team must accomplish. The team leader must embrace the team's mission and goals as the guiding rod for the team's actions and continuously keep them in front of the team members as they develop and execute their action plans. An on-line status system should be considered to support the team leader in this task. We work with several such tools in our engagements with client teams.

Platform of Trust

Openness and vulnerability are essential in establishing a platform of mutual trust within a team. The new team leader must lead the team by being open and demonstrating vulnerability. Behavioral assessments are valuable tools to be used in helping to establish the open environment of mutual trust necessary to gain the commitment of individual team members who must carry out the actions necessary for the team to reach their shared goals.

Debate, Collaboration and Action Plans

There is enormous power within a team if the team leader can lead the individual team members to engage in open debate and a sharing of ideas to address and solve the challenges being faced by the team. The new team leader must have the skills to lead the team in problem solving meetings that can quickly engage all team members in the issue at hand and then process the ideas presented into a cohesive plan of action. We provide meeting facilitation support and computer-based tools that allow a team to engage issues and develop action plans in one-half to one-sixth of the time required by traditional meeting processes.

Individual Commitments

Nothing gets done until someone steps forward and commits to carry out a needed action. Actions that are assigned to uninvolved team members have the high risk of not being completed as needed. The new team leader must have the skills to engage team members in the process of problem solving as a part of gaining their individual commitments to carry out the actions that have been defined by the team. Much of our work involves coaching team leaders through the processes of gaining the commitments that will determine the team's success.

Personal Accountability

mmitments made but not carried out on a timely basis are a major reason that teams which seem to be working well fail to realize their goals. The new team leader must establish processes and disciplines that hold individuals accountable for completing the commitments they make to the team. On-line status reporting systems may be essential tools in helping the team leader keep team members focused on completing their outstanding commitments.

Barrier Removal

In our experience, individual team members usually fail to complete
their commitments because barriers surface that prevent or detract them from carrying out the specific steps necessary to finalize the commitment. The new team leader must monitor the completion of outstanding commitments and identify when intervention is needed to help individual team members recognize, define, and resolve barriers. When appropriate, the new team leader should lead the entire team in helping individual team members identify and overcome the barriers stopping progress towards the team's goals.

We help team sponsors and new team leaders prepare executive and management teams to deliver needed results. Please do not hesitate to contact us if you have or are a new team leader and would like to discuss how we can provide the tools and support to help insure success in achieving your organization's goals.

Tom Samson
"Helping Executive Team Leaders Use The Power of Dynamic Teamwork To Achieve Sustainable Results"