This level of leadership is in almost every organization today. Working leaders serve in businesses, our civil governments, the military, and in Church ministries. Everything has a beginning, so it is with leadership. It is important to understand that this position is entry, elementary, and probationary in nature. Rarely is there any formal education or training for those placed into this position of Team Leader. Title, duty, and requirements for appointment are different from one organization to another. One common observation in all is those that accept these positions, is the desire to serve and take on increased responsibility. Before any mental decision to enter leadership, they decided in their heart to serve.
And finally, in introducing the Team Leader, they are servants. Being peer to peer in its working, this leader relies heavily on the servant leadership style. Also being at the relational level of comrade (closely joined together in the performance of the same goal) requires investment. Both from this leader to the team, and the team into the leader. A Team Leader that I served under and later became a supervisor, could place his success in the fact that he “Knew his people.” He understood the strengths and weaknesses of those he led.
I have served in this position several times with various organizations. For me this was the most enjoyable and fulfilling position of leadership. I was able to lead and “stay on my tools” or still do my job. With my first time, I was able to learn some foundational lessons on being a leader. It was in the charge given to me by my supervisor at the time. I was not to be another voice, but an example. I was to set the pace and do things faster, better, and safer. My job did not get easier, it would require more from me. Then I was to be present with my team. A team cannot follow someone that is not leading. Team Leaders lead from the front!
The purpose for having team leaders can be both noble and ignoble. Leadership from top to bottom has as its primary duty the responsibility of empowering the people for success. But with so many organizations this is ignored by executive and mid-level managers and placed on the desks of the first-line supervisors. At the supervisor level this can sometimes be overwhelming especially when second floor managers are always pulling them from first floor activities. With team leaders, supervisors now have someone that is like-minded and is an extension of their authority to empower and guide their people. Many organizations use this position to develop future candidates for supervisory positions.
Then there is the other side. Some organizations use leader men instead of hiring more supervisors which usually command higher pay. Others will fill the leadership ranks with friends and “yes men” to keep loyalty. Others, in the case of a weak manager or supervisor, will insulate themselves from subordinates with a Team Lead. Then there are some that place people into leadership based on the color of their skin to meet a quota. Any one of these motives is like tethering an arrow. I was once with an organization that picked their leaders by, who got their hand up the fastest.
Successful organizations will seek men and women that first display the character needed, then a history of being a good follower, and lastly the skill and ability. All of which is important to be successful. Carefully selected these leaders can be beneficial to an organization. They help supervisors and managers to maintain accountability for projects and personnel. The scope of work is clear to team members and communication of information flows effectively. Whether instructions or changes from above, or problems met by the team. Having visible leaders supplies security and confidence for higher level leaders and the team.
But as with anything involving people and placing them into leadership, there are risks. I know I am repeating these, but they are so important. It is character first! Then, proved submission to authority, after this competence of skills. Get these out of order and an organization could be asking for trouble. They could very well end up with a “Baby Boss” or a “Kingdom Builder.” What you thought was going to be a help, ends up being like a bad tasting fly that a frog captures on his tongue and cannot get rid of it.
Success in this position starts with humility. Understand your place and stay in your position. I have written this before, but it always bears repeating, your title denotes your position. This level of leadership needs to be with and actively involved with those under your responsibility. Keeping an attitude that nothing is beneath or beyond you will serve you well. Be willing to pay the price for the team’s success.
Be authentic! You are going to make mistakes. You will not always have the answer. Show your team the humility to seek guidance or counsel when needed. People will follow a leader that is real over one that thinks she is right every time. Being authentic, a leader is seen as one that has weaknesses just like the rest of team. This will inspire the team because they will see your perseverance that overcomes challenges.
Be faithful, not just to senior leaders but the team as well. Being unfaithful destroys your team’s trust in you. Often there is no recovery from this.
In closing and as I said before, this level of leadership was the most enjoyable for me. If you are someone that is just entering, or has been a team lead for some time, I hope you would ask yourself the questions that I asked myself. Did I inspire and set an example of personal growth in those I led? Did I influence my team positively and help them reach higher goals? Did I always look for and promote the team’s recognition over my own? Did I serve my team well?
Those who are greatest among you should take the lowest rank, and the leader should be like the servant. Luke 22:26
“Not where I breath, but where I serve, there I live.”