What is a leader’s role to move their team forward

The question really is what is the priority of the leader when it comes to his or her dealing with the team. Yes there are goal settings, motivating, training, guiding or mentoring, communicating the vision etc. These are the whats in terms of the leader’s initiative.

However, let’s look at the role of the leader in order of priority.

1. Providing Clarity and Direction

This can come in many form. Like vision and mission, goals, and objectives. This is important because the leader has to be the one putting the flag at the destination and steer the team in the right direction.

Get this right though: It may be more motivating if the direction and the end point (or goal) is set together with the team. Meaning, this objective or vision is not the leader’s alone. It is a collective vision and goal. That also means that the vision mattered to every single person within the team. Of course, it will matter most to the leaders themselves.

So then, the question to ask yourself as the leader is: “Where do I see this team in the next 1–5 years? What will we be like? What would be the conduct of our team? What would the people be like?” Picture it. Visualize it. Then, communicate it.

You are the leader. You gotta have aspirations. By all means, one that is bigger than those of your team members. Leaders are those that have to courage to come up with such an aspiration. Then, more importantly, make those aspiration relative to your team.

2. Listen, observe and provide feedback

There may be those in the team, whose expertise are better than you in a particular field or skill. You’re not there to challenge them and “be better” than them. Like, “show them who’s boss.”

The best thing you could do, is to magnify those strengths and listen to what are their weaknesses. Then see who they can leverage on to cover for their weaknesses. When everyone will be on and about their work and projects. They are focus on one or some times multiple things. The only one who will see the big picture and piece everything together is the leader.

That’s when observation is extremely important. To carefully see what’s lacking, what can be improved, what’s slowing down, what’s speeding up too fast. All of these, cannot escape your field of vision.

I find this simple framework very helpful when providing feedback to your team, whether personally or in a group.

  1. “What’s working and is on track?” (Give recognition and ask why do they think it is successful so it can be duplicated and continued)
  2. “What’s not working and is difficult?” (This will help the team to diagnose something before breaking down)
  3. Continued from 2, “Is it still possible to work on and fix it?” (Make strategic choices either to fix it and find a solution, or move on and get someone else to handle it)
  4. “What can be improved?” (This can be for both things that are working and not working)

Be as constructive as possible when providing feedback.

No emotions, no blaming, no criticism, no biases, no provoking. Feedback is just that: Feedback. Neutral. Some may take certain things negative, but it’s the leader’s job to provide the context and be as moderate as possible.

Oh. Remember to focus more on strengths.

3. Creating the environment

This is also one of the important roles of a leader. When it comes to building trust and cultivating a culture of competency (or whatever culture you want to set), the environment is extremely important. We are constantly influenced by the environment. It is up to the leader to shape the environment.

I’m talking about things like:

  • The working space (duh)
  • The meetings and training
  • Extra team-bonding activities
  • The systems and processes that are in place
  • The awards and recognition within the team
  • The communication within the team

It doesn’t take a lot to realize whether the environment overall is good or bad. And the leader has to create and make sure the environment is good.

I would think these are the top 3 priorities of the role of a leader. There’s actually more than that because a leader’s position is vital. It dictates the rise or fall of an organization! How much more important can that be?

Well, thanks for reading and I really appreciate you going through this article. Leaders are readers. Don’t stop learning. Do drop a comment or question if you have any opinion or question related to leadership. (: