Team Building Harare, Zimbabwe

BUILDING WINNING TEAMS – THE EFFECT OF LEADERSHIP

Effective team leaders align a group of people towards a common purpose. It’s been said time without number that it rises and falls on leadership. Leaders are the unifying force that rally the team forward through the establishment of sound systems that act as a unifying force for the good of everyone. In many sporting teams, the coach is fired when the team fail to perform to the expected standards. In most case, in an interesting turn of events, positive results are realized upon the coming aboard of a new leader. This goes to show the effect that leadership has on the team.

Leadership qualities can all be learnt. A Iot revolves around empowering the team and giving everyone the opportunity to shine. Leadership goes beyond placing a badge on a chest. It is engaging in intentional action that inspires the team members to high performance. Lording it over others creates an environment of animosity and frustration which is counter productive to the goals of the team. Great leaders know how to engage in action that produces certain set results.

Successful team leadership revolves around effective communication and creation of bonds with a feeling of camaraderie amongst all and sundry. Communication is never one way but ought to be free flowing, with the giving and receiving of feedback playing a central role in the whole process.

Why should you take all the credit as a leader and shift all the blame to others? The feeling that team members are always wrong destroys team chemistry as everyone would want to prove a point that they are also right and in extreme cases expose the flaws of the leader. Giving credit where it is due flows back to the one who has given such. Mistakes that are continuously covered have a way of exposing themselves sooner or later.

Humility coupled with utmost respect for all adds value to the wellbeing of the team. It is never about the team leader being the centre of attraction all the time. In a football match, the centre of attraction is where the ball is. The player who has the ball has all attention on them at any given moment. In as much as the captain is the leader in the field of play, it is not always about them. If the team concedes a penalty, the focal point becomes the goal keeper unto whom the whole team places their total trust. Which everything is going on, the coach is confined to the touchline, proving on how leadership is not necessarily  about the individual but the humble submission to trust and empower others to run with the ball even in the leader’s absence. Coupled with empathy and compassion, the team leader creates an environment of trust and commitment to the system.

The fact that people have come together in a team is proof that things can go wrong since no one in infallible. Great leaders have the ability to hold themselves and others accountable without necessarily shaming or exposing whoever would have erred. Each team member can be given ownership of the goal as they are made aware of their current standing against the intended targets. Effectiveness comes down to setting and communicating the set parameters so that everyone knows what is expected of them. Anyone in the team can point or pick up the mismatch between the set standard and the optimal delivery. Emphasis however should not be placed on where someone has fallen but on the way forward, bearing in mind that there is no future in the past. In as much as the past can be used as a guidepost to the future, there are unique realities that lie where the team is headed than what has been.

Besides the shortfalls of the team members and holding everyone accountable, every team leader’s starting point in building accountability within the team; always starts with self. Self introspection is the hallmark of great leadership. It is always said that you cannot give what you don’t have. What the leader sees amongst the followers is a reflection of whom the leader is in line with the old adage; “a fruit doesn’t fall far away from the tree.” It is through commitment to accountability that other team members quickly fall in line. Before leaders can inspire others to great work, they must buy into the work themselves. The leader must develop the vision, define it and communicate it to everyone. A clearly defined and communicated vision becomes the touchstone against which all decisions and actions within the team are hinged.

The team won’t achieve much if it is led by a leader with low self esteem or one who lack conviction in their ability to stir the team forward. Alexander the Great put it clearly in the word; “An army of sheep led by a lion is better than an army of lions led by a sheep.” Great leaders bring the best out of their people firstly by having the deep rooted conviction that they have what it takes to bring about the desired difference.

Napoleon Bonaparte would say; “a leader is a dealer in hope.” The use of inspiration and sound communication skills goes a long way in ensuring that the team grows in leaps and bounds towards the attainment of the set goals. True team leadership comes down to offering vision, inspiration, communication and values that keep the team intact.

The world is run by men and women of great ideas, not necessarily those with positions and power but those who have the capacity to empower others. Ideas are immortal and they go beyond power, positions and possession dynamics. The world is forever in search of solutions and the onus lies upon the leaders to create the ideal environment in which there is a free flow of ideas that sustain into the future. Some of the best ideas have come from unexpected places. I have come to the conclusion that ideas dwell in mortal beings regardless of whom they are. It is from the respect given to each team member, notably from the top, that great solutions are generated. A leader must have the oxygen of ideas that inspire hope in line with the words of John Quincy Adams who said; “If your actions inspire others to do more, learn more and become more, you are a leader.”

When the leader is in touch with the team they are leading, that keeps hope of the team alive and the quest towards attainment of great results. The leader’s heart must beat with empathy and flow with the oxygen of hope. Genuine leadership comes down to modelling the way even amidst a crisis. Storms do present themselves in teams but they must be dealt with from a very positive stand point.

Leadership in a team comes down to the realization that people are the most important part of the establishment. This is cemented through sound interpersonal relationships. Resources in whatever form won’t produce the intended results until the relations are addressed.

Many teams are over managed and under led. Stagnation and maintenance in teams is a sign of bossyship rather than the progress and advancement that proper leadership advocates. When the person in front wants to be felt, with an ego bigger than the dream of the team, then it doesn’t matter the title given to that person, they are not exercising any leadership but bossyship.

The so-called bosses emphasize on their twenty years experience, which in many cases could be one year experience repeated twenty times. The thinking is that leadership is a function of number of years of earthly existence or in the team. With a mistaken notion that Leadership comes by position, power or pride, bossyship mentality and attitude runs down formerly thriving entities, which might have gone under as a result of the failed leadership. Bossyship blames everything and everyone rather than do the self-introspection that the great leaders are known for.

Bossyship thinks the leadership seat is meant for them to sit on. Great leaders on the other hand, know that they have to accomplish a great feat and leave their teams in a fitter state than before. Bossyship thinks the past achievements and accolades are more valuable than the future but leadership learns from the past to craft a great future, knowing fully well that the team is going to spend the rest of its life in the future.

True leadership legacy is built upon the commitment on the part of the leader to establish a team culture. This is the mode of behavior that connects and runs within the system of the team, which stands to be enduring whether the leader is still present or not. What has kept great teams alive through the turbulence in the operating environment is primarily the culture that is established. The stronger the culture, the higher the chances that the team will thrive for a long time into the future.

The leader sets goals and solves problems. It is the ability of the leader to address issues as they come that the best of results are obtained. The leader never pretend as if they know all. Instead, they let go of certain work assignments, engaging in the art of delegation as part of the management of team member performance. It is through the sensitivity to growth of team members that the best comes out.

At the centre of all team leadership is emotional intelligence and diplomacy where the leader knows what to say and what not to say and how to say it. Communication becomes the lubricant that facilitates the interactions and prevents the friction of conflict which is bound to arise from time to time. As long as there is a team, with each one bringing out their uniqueness, disagreements are bound to arise. If everything flows well without any challenges, then it’s a pointer to pretense on the part of some team members. A good leader stirs the boat from time to time as a way of determining if everything is flowing according to plan or there are members who are cowering others down into compliance.

Team leadership is hinged on the ability to build moral, continuously train and develop others and promote creativity. In all this, the leader must be flexible enough rather than operate with a rigidity mindset that carries no solutions into the future. Great leaders operate in the same mode as the elephant trunk that can pick up needles, draw water and even pull down large trees. The truck carries heavy objects and engage in every other assignment the elephant deems fit. It is such levels of flexibility that are required from every leader who desires to make a lasting impression on their team.

Picture of Noah Mangwarara

Noah Mangwarara

NOAH MANGWARARA is an international leadership coach and transformational speaker, renowned team building expert and Author with traceable footprints of positive impact and experience of more than 20 years spanning Southern, East and West Africa. He is the author of several books on Leadership, Motivation, Teamwork, Strategy and Public Speaking.

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