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What Is a Team Leader? Duties and Skills

Posted by Glassdoor Team

Career Advice Experts

Last Updated June 29, 2021

Guide Overview

Team leader definitionWhat does a team leader do?Skills needed by team leaders

Guide Overview

Team leaders in the workplace

Team leaders are essential in a variety of workplace settings and are responsible for ensuring tasks and projects are completed by effectively delegating, overseeing, and guiding team members. While team members aren't often in a management position, they do lead teams of employees and perform the duties that come with that level of responsibility. Here we explore what a team leader is, what team leaders do on a daily basis, and the most important skills needed for team leaders to be effective in their positions.

Team leader definition

Team leaders direct and guide individuals with the intent of achieving a particular goal. For example, a marketing team leader may oversee a team throughout the completion and execution of a marketing strategy. These professionals aren’t necessarily in a management role, but rather oversee a team and then report the team’s progress and results to a manager.

Team leaders monitor the progress of a team throughout the duration and successful completion of a project. They may work as part of the team and complete tasks related to the project as well as lead the team. These professionals must also be able to effectively motivate team members to accomplish goals and complete tasks in a timely and efficient manner. When team members are motivated to take part in the achievement of a goal, they are better able to function as a team and work towards a common solution.

What does a team leader do?

There are several responsibilities of a team leader in the workplace, including:

  • Select team members who have a combination of strengths needed to achieve a particular goal.
  • Create and implementing strategies that team members use to reach the goal.
  • Delegate tasks to each team member based on their unique strengths and skill set.
  • Offer training necessary to complete certain tasks in order to reach the goal.
  • Provide regular support and encouragement to keep team members motivated and working toward a common goal.
  • Oversee the day-to-day operations of a team.
  • Monitor each team member’s contributions and participation to ensure the project is on track to be completed in a timely manner.
  • Create and distribute regular reports to management that show the progress of the project.
  • Ensure resources are being used in an efficient manner.

Skills needed by team leaders

Team leaders need several skills to be successful in their positions. These skills include:

Communication skills

Team leaders must regularly communicate with team members, management, and clients to ensure everyone is on the same page and understands the goals and progress of the project. Leaders should be excellent at communicating in various forms, including verbal and written communication, to ensure information is presented in a way that is easily understood. They should also have good listening skills to ensure that team members feel heard and that project goals and expectations are clear.

Other communication skills that team leaders should possess include:

  • Empathy.
  • Nonverbal communication.
  • Receiving and giving feedback.
  • Responsiveness.
  • Active listening.
  • The ability to adapt the communication style to meet the needs of the audience.

Motivation

Team leaders must be able to motivate their team members to complete tasks in a successful and timely manner. They should encourage excitement and passion and provide guidance on how to be more productive. Team leaders are also responsible for training and mentoring team members as well as recognizing good work and offering recognition or rewards for accomplishing challenging tasks.

Relationship building

Leaders need to be able to build quality relationships with team members, managers, and clients. This includes fostering trust and respect and showing empathy to team members. Leaders are also responsible for managing group relationships and conflicts that may arise and should be able to effectively diffuse challenging situations and help others unite as they work towards a common goal.

Relationship-building skills team leaders should possess include:

  • Emotional intelligence.
  • Listening skills.
  • Networking skills.
  • Conflict resolution.
  • Trust.
  • Consistency.
  • Stress management.

Decision-making skills

Team leaders must regularly make decisions to ensure projects are on the right track and team members are guided in the right direction. Good decision-making skills ensure the right choices are made to promote a more effective team and the successful completion of a project. Leaders should be able to assess all of the information available and make informed decisions based on effective reasoning.

Responsibility

Being a team leader means taking responsibility for both your own work and the work of the members of your team. Being willing to take responsibility and hold one’s self accountable is essential to being an effective leader. Not only will this help to ensure tasks are completed successfully, but it will also foster trust and respect from managers and team members.

Goal orientation

Leaders are willing to take charge and do what needs to be done to reach goals. They must be able to look at a situation from a variety of perspectives and decide the best actions that will ensure a goal is met. They should also be able to inspire and push team members towards achieving goals and elicit an excitement that keeps employees motivating to constantly move forward.

Fairness

Team leaders are responsible for assigning tasks to team members and must be able to do so in a fair and consistent manner. Assigning one team member an excess amount of tasks and others fewer tasks or showing favoritism among team members can create hostility and lead to projects not being completed in a successful and efficient manner. Team members should be given an even amount of tasks to complete and should be treated in the same way to ensure they feel respected and part of the team.

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