Leaders Role in Building High-Performance Teams

High-performance teams comprise of a group of people having complementary skills which are aligned with the objective of fulfilling a common purpose by following a collaborative approach and encouraging an environment of innovation.

Several studies and research on the connection between leadership and the success or failure of high-performance teams reveal that the quality of leadership will make the ultimate difference.

Gallup’s research findings (2015) explain that around 70% of the variance in the scores of employee engagement will depend upon the role played by the leadership in setting the direction, providing the right culture and motivation to the employees.

Leaders enable the success of high-performance teams in the following manner:

  • Leaders contribute to the selection of the right kind of talent for the right job requirement and help in attaining the best fit between the people and the job.
  • Facilitating the right culture or environment for the employees and hiring the right people who fit into that culture. Open communication, a climate of mutuality, trust and collaboration build the edifice for success. A collaborative culture fosters inclusiveness, where all the members of the team contribute towards the collective success.
  • Leaders act as the champions of change and drive continuous improvement at work by assessing the existing processes, introducing reformed processes and train teams on the changes in the methods and technology.
  • Leaders invest in people as they realize the importance of promoting the talent of the employees, providing them maximum opportunities and training to showcase their best of the abilities and develop future leaders or succession planning.

    Surprising stats from Deloitte reveal that by 2020 around 86% of people will quit their jobs because of lack of career growth and developmental opportunities. Employee development will ultimately contribute to high retention scores.

  • Leaders play a key role in formulating and implementing strategic roadmaps for the team members, establishing SMART objectives and monitor the work progress periodically. The define the values and mission clearly and permeate it to the teams; have a sharp focus and usually not influenced or pressurized by the organizational politics or hierarchy.

How do Leaders Attain High-Performance?

By Valuing the Contributions of the Teams: Leaders facilitate the environment of collaboration and foster a passion for excellence.

Effective leadership has the following advantages:

  • The members of the team feel that they are valued and enjoy being a part of the group.
  • The group ensures optimum use of the talent by providing challenging opportunities to prove their mettle.
  • The groups focus on retention of the best of the talent.
  • People have a clear understanding of their roles in the team and how they can contribute towards the overall group objectives.

Facilitating Thinking Out of the Box and Critical Thinking Abilities: Leaders play the role of trendsetters and motivate people to deliver exceptional outcomes by way of exemplification. Leaders set enduring examples and redefine the existing processes to be followed by the team members.

Capturing Opportunities: Leaders can visualize the big picture and develop strategies for seizing the right opportunities by preparing people and setting the processes in place.

An able leader should be able to provide the right kind of environment for the team members so that the team is made ready to adapt to the challenges and seize the opportunities around them:

  • By ensuring free information exchange amongst the group members, a leader encourages the creative talent and promotes innovative thinking in the groups.
  • By rewarding learning and good work, a leader sets the examples of a high-performance culture.
  • The members of the team are motivated to try and experiment with new ideas and treat mistakes as opportunities for improvement at work.
  • A group leader encourages creative problem solving and brainstorming for resolving complex problems.

Shackleton (1995) highlighted six important roles of a manager for empowering high-performance teams:

  1. Mutual Respect and Belief: Managers should be able to believe and have faith in the capabilities of their team members and be able to identify the strengths, build on the possibilities and deal with the weaknesses accordingly.
  2. Confidence: Managers should play the role of facilitators and empower the team members to take on higher responsibilities and new roles. They should be confident that the empowerment of their team members need not necessarily threaten their position as the leader of the team.
  3. Training: Team managers should be focused towards enhancing the skills and expertise of their team members by providing them ample opportunities to participate in skill development exercises or training programmes.
  4. Boundaries: Team managers are skilled at establishing clear boundaries for the team members so that each member is made aware about the pre-requisites for functioning in the team, their liberties and what remains within the control of the manager.
  5. Information: Team managers ensure that the right information is shared with the team members and they see to it that the members are made available with everything that they need.
  6. Providing Feedback on the Work Progress: The team managers monitor the end to end stage of the work and give feedback on the areas of improvement and strengths in connection with the assignment.

According to Manz and Sims (1996), the role of a leader evolves with the maturity of the team. During the start-up stage, the leader plays an authoritarian role, provides instructions and guides the team members through every step.

On the other hand, once the team attains the maturity stage, the leader plays the role of a team champion, facilitates high-performance by way of collaborative thinking and problem-solving, defines boundaries for the team members and acts as a mentor and a coach to the team members. NHS Modernization Agency (2003), identified team leadership as the crucial factor in the successful adoption and implementation of innovative practices and new ideas.

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Team Building