The Team Leader is at the frontline of organisational culture.
The macro-culture gets set at the top. This is important but there are limitations. The problem is that even with the best intent, executives are distanced from most people’s actual daily working experiences.
The micro-culture is what’s key.
This is the team you work in. The 6 to 10 people you spend the most time with every day. It’s here, in the micro-culture, on the watch of the Team Leader where the culture gets realised.
The Team Leader’s actions, motives and personal energy makes a huge difference to how much people care about their place of work.
This is a big responsibility.
It’s why the Team Leader is arguably the most important person in your organisation.
So what is the work of the Team Leader?
Ultimately it boils down to two things:
- Create conditions for people to perform.
- Make work a dignified experience.
Performance matters. It’s obvious. But it’s surprising how often this gets lost in the activity of a business. Results matter. This is how value gets created. Results establish the legitimacy of the team and the sustainability of the business.
But dignity matters too.
This shapes how people feel about their work and the organisation.
If people are your most important asset, as I hear many executives say, then dignity matters. Dignity is how people are treated. It allows for people to belong. To feel loyal and want to do more.
Together, performance and dignity ensure that not only the business grows but the person does too.
The Team Leader has a big role to play. One of their first actions is to create clarity.
Practically this means working with the team to create a Team Charter. A charter is a ‘contract’. It bonds people’s actions together and releases energy towards a common goal.
Keeping it simple and on a single page is important.
Answering the following 7 questions is key:
- Why do we exist as a team … our core purpose?
- What do we do?
- How will we behave?
- How will we succeed … 3 things we have to always get right?
- What is most important right now … our team’s single most important near term priority?
- Who must do what and by when?
- What will we measure?
A Charter clarifies the team’s reason for being. It provides focus and it avoids the morale-sapping effect of confusion and the inevitable frustration which follows.
Yet most teams have not answered these questions!
And they certainly are not written up on a single page and kept visible and accessible. Neither are they referred to in meetings and consulted weekly as the basis for making decisions and evaluating success.
This is a powerful tool in the hands of the Team Leader.
So too is working with each person to identify their strengths. This builds the spirit of the person and it grows trust. The best team leaders work very hard at this.
In a May 2019, HBR article, The Power of Hidden Teams, Marcus Buckingham and Ashley Goodall wrote:
“We discovered that strong agreement with two statements, ‘At work, I clearly understand what is expected of me’ and ‘I have the chance to use my strengths every day at work’, corresponds with a high level of trust in the team leader.
Trust in the Team Leader is the key to the performance of the team.
Creating clarity builds this trust.
So does helping each person on the team to get focussed and feel understood.
This is the essential work of the Team Leader. The best ones show up every day to do this … over and over again.
There’s more of course.
But it starts with performance and dignity on the frontline of your business.
We love hearing from you. Please comment below.
+ Do you agree that performance and dignity are vital?
+ Has your team answered the 7 questions?