5 Important Roles and Responsibilities of a Team Leader
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Team leaders have the important responsibility of providing their teams with guidance and support to complete projects and reach their goals. The way they perform their duties can have a substantial impact on the productivity and success of their team. Learning about the roles and responsibilities of a team leader can help you develop the traits and skills you can use to excel in a leadership role. In this article, we explain what the roles of a team leader are, describe the responsibilities of a team leader and list some important traits successful team leaders have.
What are the roles and responsibilities of a team leader?
A team leader's responsibilities vary based on their role. There are many types of team leaders, and their roles depend on the size and nature of the group they lead, the scope of the team's projects and the team structure. Here are some common team leader roles and their primary characteristics:
Manager: Manager is an official job title that involves guiding small teams to help them achieve their goals.
Communicator: A communicator is a leader who excels in communicating clear objectives to team members.
Strategist: A strategist creates and implements efficient processes for reaching team goals.
Visionary: A visionary focuses on processes and tasks that can help the team realise their long-term vision.
Organiser: An organiser uses critical thinking and problem-solving skills to delegate duties and monitor progress.
Advocator: An advocator nurtures the talents of each team member to help the team reach its goals.
While leaders typically have a primary role, they may incorporate more than one to lead their teams effectively. For example, a strategist may develop strategies that maximise the talents of their team members, as an advocator does.
Team leader responsibilities
Regardless of their role, team leaders have general responsibilities that help them guide their team members towards achieving their goals. They assist in every aspect of their team's projects and take steps to improve their management processes and the functions of their team for future projects. Here are some main team leader responsibilities:
1. Coach team members
Team leaders have the primary responsibility of coaching their team members to perform their tasks effectively. If a team member excels in a specific role, team leaders may ask them to train other members to help them develop those skills. If a team member experiences challenges in a certain role, they may request that they work with another team member or meet with them personally to discuss ways the team member can improve their skills and their confidence.
Example: Erin's sales team leader plans weekly meetings with each of the individual team members. During this meeting, Leonardo discusses areas of improvement while also demonstrating effective leadership characteristics. Leonardo identifies that Erin needs help to meet sales quotas. Erin and Leonardo go through each step of the sales process and determine which points are the most difficult for her. They collaborate to come up with alternative ways to complete these steps in an attempt to improve Erin's sales numbers.
2. Develop team strengths and improve weaknesses
Team leaders identify their team members' strengths and determine areas where they could use improvement. They use their understanding of their team members' abilities and the feedback team members provide to them to delegate tasks. When each member contributes to the team according to their strengths, they can meet their goals efficiently. Team members can also encourage team members to learn from each other to develop new skills and gain an appreciation for one another.
Example: Tiffany is in charge of planning the upcoming fundraiser. She first considers the strengths of each team member. She uses these strengths to delegate each of the required tasks. Tiffany is aware that Jennifer struggles with budgeting. She also knows that Jennifer has requested the ability to develop this skill, so Tiffany assigns the task to her along with Jordan, who excels at budgeting.
3. Identify team goals and evaluate team progress
Teams work together to achieve a common goal, and team leaders have the responsibility of establishing these objectives. When team members understand the purpose of their work, they may feel more motivated to complete their tasks. Establishing structure through team roles, project timelines and regular meetings can help team leaders ensure their teams stay on schedule. It also allows them to monitor their team's progress and identify and resolve potential challenges before they escalate.
Example: Your organisation's management tasked Lisa with leading a team of top salespersons to create a new training program for new employees. The main goal of the team is to create a training programme for new employees that will teach them the necessary sales skills. The team identified a shared goal of completing the project. However, Lisa also identified individual course completions and the creation of sales training manuals as goals. She set deadlines for each aspect of the project and assigned individual tasks so each team member clearly understood what she expected them to do and when.
4. Resolve conflict
Conflict among team members can occur, especially in situations that involve high levels of stress or pressure to complete a project. Team leaders can help resolve issues that arise within their teams by meeting with the members involved and acting as a mediator. They handle these issues with a calm demeanour and remove their emotions from the situation so they can provide logical guidance. By hearing each person's thoughts and opinions, team leaders can assist them in reaching a compromise.
Example: Samantha was beginning to feel like the delegated workload was uneven. She claimed that Lawrence had easier tasks and would often make comments during sales meetings. Instead of taking up a valuable team meeting time to discuss this conflict, Ben arranged a different meeting with each individual and then one together. This method allowed the team leader to understand each individual's concerns while encouraging communication to come up with an agreed goal.
5. Organise team initiatives
Organisation has an essential role in helping team leaders accomplish their goals and provide their teams with effective leadership. Team leaders exhibit organisation on many levels. They organise physical and digital resources, such as schedules, files and meeting notes, so everyone on the team can access them quickly and easily. Team leaders also organise their managerial tasks, such as team member responsibilities, meeting agendas and communication with team members and clients. Staying organised can prevent miscommunication about project goals.
Example: Dina uses her strong organisational skills when managing her team. She gives team members plenty of notice for upcoming sales meetings. She prepares for each meeting by creating an outline of the most important topics to discuss. During the meeting, Dina follows this outline closely, keeping everyone on topic and completing all the necessary talking points.
Important traits of a team leader
Team leaders manage and organise the workplace, resolve conflict and plan tasks. They have many traits that help them perform these duties in a way that benefits their team and their organisation. Here are some traits that help team leaders succeed in their roles:
Verbal and nonverbal communication skills: Communication is crucial when working with and leading a team because you will have to communicate with both your team and your supervisors. A team leader communicates in a way that is clear, effective and directive.
Organisational skills: Organisation is important when you have multiple team members working on one project. Strong organisational skills will help you monitor progress and keep team members motivated.
Ability to delegate: Team leaders must delegate tasks to individual team members. This requires the team leader to trust in the abilities of the team.
Integrity: Team leaders often lead by example. Team members may feel more inclined to trust, respect and appreciate a team leader who demonstrates integrity.
Confident work ethic: Team members often mimic the work ethic of the team leader. Displaying confidence in the task and the team itself can help to instil confidence in team members.
Patience: Team members each have distinct personalities, strengths and areas of improvement. Team leaders exercise patience when getting to know their team members, assigning roles that fit their strengths and helping them overcome obstacles.
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