As it appeared in the Daily Nation on March 6th, 2018
Most of us are part of different kinds of teams. These teams are at the workplace, in our businesses, in church, in the community, in school etc. In some of the teams, we are the leaders and in the others, we are the followers. I have led small teams and big teams; I have led volunteers and staff and I have been a follower. The leadership roles have not been a walk in the park and I have learnt many lessons. One of the key lessons that I have learnt is on the significant role that the leader plays in the success or failure of the team effort. Whether our team is made up of two, 100 or thousands members or volunteers, as leaders we need to take up our leadership responsibility with more zeal.
Leading a team means moving the team towards the achievement of specific desired results. In the world of business, this is one of the key responsibilities of business owners and business leaders. Whilst some leaders have the ability to positively influence and guide their followers, many lack this ability. The pinnacle of a good leader is not in being able to micro manage the team but in developing others so that they may lead themselves. As a leader, one must learn to support others so that they may think and act as leaders. As a leader, what are you doing in growing other leaders in your team?
It is a well-known fact that the performance of an organization is a function of the leadership ability of its top leaders. These leaders clarify the direction, inspire their followers and shape the desired organizational culture. At the centre of leadership, is the leader’s ability to communicate effectively and in a timely manner. The best leaders are those that are open and honest in their communication. In addition, they communicate proactively and do not withhold information. In their communication, they do not only pass on information but they also confirm that the information is well understood.
In today’s changing business environment, effective team leadership is paramount for survival. I have learnt that it is paramount for leaders of today to focus more on the needs of their teams and the individuals that make up those teams and not just the tasks. Each person in a team is unique and they need to be seen as such. I believe that leaders who lead from this human perspective are better placed to positively impart others with desirable values, behaviours, and attitudes. Such leaders are better placed to develop others, to maintain team cohesion, retain members and to see improved team performance.
Being a leader has also taught me the need to be a good follower. It has also taught me that being a leader starts with the ability to lead oneself and to manage one’s emotions. If you are part of a team and you are not the leader, be a great follower. Finally, do not always wait to be led, lead yourself so that you may support your team in achieving more!
Lucy Kiruthu is a Management Consultant and Trainer connect via twitter @KiruthuLucy