Any discussion of team leadership should start with a clear definition of terms. A group can be defined as two or more persons interacting with each other, such that each one is influenced by the other. In contrast, a team has four necessary characteristics: complementary skills, pursuit of a common goal, a shared approach and performance measurements, and mutual accountability.
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Individual members possess or obtain technical, functional, problem-solving, decision-making, and interpersonal skills required by the team as a whole.
Pursuit of a Common Goal:
The focus of the entire team at all times is the team’s shared goal. A team must have a shared goal.
Shared Approach and Performance Metrics:
Team members share a common approach to their work and track their progress through shared performance metrics.
Each team member holds him or herself accountable for their work while also holding fellow team members accountable for their work. This requires the commitment and trust of all team members.
Teams can be classified according to what they do. find below for more information on some common types of teams.
Quality circles are small groups of employees from a given work area who meet regularly to investigate quality problems and recommend solutions.
Work teams are generally permanent teams that actually make a product or provide a service. Work teams differ from work groups insofar as the entire work team decides how to do the work.
Problem-solving teams are temporary teams put in place to work on a specific problem facing an organization and to make recommendations for others to implement.
Management teams are teams of managers who, in many cases, coordinate work teams. Management teams coach work teams to become self-managing. They also coordinate efforts between work teams.
Product Development Teams
Product development teams are cross-functional teams tasked with creating new products and services.
Virtual teams are teams that collaborate via electronic communication (for example, videoconferencing or email). Virtual teams may be very efficient, as face-to-face meetings can be kept to a minimum, travel time reduced, and communications facilitated through different technologies.
Self-organizing teams are common in the Agile world. In Agile and adaptive life cycle applications, as soon as work boundaries are established, team members must recognize that they are responsible for managing and completing their own work. Yet, they must also acknowledge that a team’s collective responsibility is to complete all of the tasks in a task list, and that any team member may be assigned any particular task; there are no “experts.” In self-organizing teams, activities are guided by authority figures, including the project manager and product owner. However, these figures simply advise team members instead of directing them.
Developing a Team, Not a Group
A project management team leader’s key responsibility is to develop a team from a collection of people. The table below lists different characteristics of teams and how a team leader can help to cultivate these qualities:
|Team Characteristics||Leadership Action|
|Team members have a shared understanding of how to perform their roles.||The team leader should help define and communicate the group’s roles.|
|Teams have a clear understanding of what constitutes the team’s “work” and why that work is important.||The team leader must clearly articulate what the team needs to accomplish and why the team’s success is significant to the organization.|
|Team members can describe what the team needs to achieve, as well as the norms and values that will guide them.||During the Forming stage, it can be useful to hold a meeting where the team collectively discusses the values that are important to them and agrees on ways of working.|
|Teams have a spirit that shows a sense of bonding and camaraderie.||The team leader should initiate team development activities. These may be formal or informal in nature, and they should help individuals begin thinking more with the frame of “we,” rather than “me” or “I.”|
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