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What Knowledge and Skills are Required by a Team Leader

What knowledge and skills are required by a team leader?

If you have recently been made a team leader or manager, it is probably because you know "the job" better than the others in the team. You know the job, the systems, the customers, the processes. So, you were the logical and best choice to be made the team leader.

But, now you are a team leader, you will be expected to know how to deal with a broader range of problems; new problems; not of a technical nature, but rather, problems of leadership.

As a team leader, how can you get the best from yourself and others?

Here is a list of six skills sets that you need to master in your role as a leader manager:

1. How to set and achieve goals
2. How to communicate clearly
3. How to manage time: Prioritise, plan, prepare and prevent problems
4. How to manage conflict: Conflict of ideas, personalities and poor behaviour
5. How to self-motivate; personal motivation, personal confidence, personal initiative
6. How to motivate others. Inspire motivation, inspire confidence, and inspire initiative.

Think you already have these skills? Try our fun quiz!

Let us look at each in turn:

1. How to set and achieve goals

The leader must be leading the team somewhere. At least, you would hope so!

A leader must know the "direction of travel".

For example, if you are the leader of an expedition to the North Pole, you would not spend any time climbing Mount Everest. Climbing Everest is a very commendable thing, but that is not our goal. Let other people climb Mount Everest; our mission is to go to the North Pole.

How do you get to the North Pole?

By making sure that every step you take is in the direction of the north pole.

Team Leader Training Course

Team Leader Training Course

As the team leader or manager, you know that, on the technical level, you are very good. In your role as an effective and inspirational leader-manager, you recognise that there may be some gaps. Now you are searching for a method to help you to improve your skills as a team-leader and manager - click here to find out more!

What is your goal?

If you don't know, then find out. Or decide.

Decide, what the "team purpose" is. And then make sure that everything you do is governed by that purpose. And equally importantly, you don't waste time doing things that don't contribute to the achievement of the purpose.

This quality of becoming "a goal focused individual" will transform your efficiency rating.
You will become a model of goal-focused, goal-directed, and efficient action.
Which is good.

2. How to communicate clearly

You work surrounded by other people. Your work requires that you communicate with others and that you gain their cooperative-assistance, in order to achieve your goals.

If you do not gain the cooperative assistance of others, then you won't achieve your goals.

Gaining the cooperative-assistance of others means that you need to improve your communication skills.

  • Improve your use of language
  • Improve your appearance
  • Improve your listening skills
  • Improve your questioning and "interrogation" skills
  • Improve your memory skills
  • Improve your ability to write clearly

All of these skills will combine to make you a more effective communicator.

Consider each of the items on the list above, and pick one, or two of them to become the object of serious study.

If you improved any two of them you would notice an immediate improvement in your leadership skills.

If you improved all of them, you could probably run the country.

3. How to manage time: Prioritise, plan, prepare and prevent problems

Knowing what you want (the goal) and gaining cooperative assistance of others, through your advanced communication skills, will not be enough, on its own.

You will need to come up with a plan.

A plan is the means by which you will achieve the goal. The plan means you must master the P-LIST.

The P-list is the following list of skills.

  • Planning
  • Prioritisation
  • Preparation
  • Prevention
  • Practice
  • Protocols
  • Personal initiative
  • Productivity
  • Progressive action

We need perfect plans in order to organise our resources in such a way that we are operating at maximum efficiency.

We want maximum progress, in the minimum amount of time, money and effort.

That is not easy. It takes thought. Deep thought. And lots of it.

So get involved with the P list.

Build perfect plans.

4. How to manage conflict: Conflict of ideas, personalities and poor behaviour

Once you have your plans you will find some people who don't agree with them.

Once you have your plans you will find some people who won't comply with them. So now you have conflict.

Conflict is inevitable. You will always have to deal with difficult people.

Difficult people are those who:

  • Don't agree with you. They do things that you don't want them to do
  • They don't do the things that you need them to do.

They are disagreeable. You need to handle these people.

But how?
Answer: You handle these people "according to the principles of reason."

  • You don't get angry
  • You don't get verbally aggressive
  • You don't get upset.

You should deal with conflict "according to the principles of reason."

That means;

  • By making reference to the facts; not your feelings.
  • By being respectful at all times.
  • By suggesting specific corrective actions to the other person.
  • By being persistent; by engaging in a process of "behaviour modification"; by trying to change them over time, rather than trying to beat them in an argument and make them change in a single day.

Remember that you need to keep this person on your side.
You don't want the team to fragment into warring camps. A dis-unified team fails.

So play your cards logically, not emotionally. Learn rational conflict management techniques.

5. How to self-motivate; personal motivation, personal confidence, personal initiative

All these conflicts and other pressures can have a draining effect on your mind.
So, you will need to manage your own emotions.
You need to be able to self-manage your own emotional state.
That means that you must develop self-control and self-discipline.
You need self-control and self-discipline in order to control your mind.
You need to control the contents of your mind because, "you feel whatever you think about".

And because you feel whatever you think about, you must control and direct your thoughts:

  • Control and direct your thoughts away from thoughts of a disastrous or fearful future.
  • Control and direct your thoughts away from thoughts of all the past disappointments and failures.
  • Control and direct your thoughts away from thoughts of all the past victories that you have enjoyed.

And instead focus your mind on:

  • Your goals. Your plans. How you can help your colleagues, to help you
  • And focus your mind on how great the future will be for you and your family.

This type of thinking will cause you to feel: Motivated. Enthusiastic. Inspired and Happy. Which is what we want.

6. How to motivate others. Inspire motivation, inspire confidence, and inspire initiative

Let us assume you are doing all five previous steps.

  • You have clear goals
  • You have excellent communication skills
  • You have brilliant and detailed plans of action
  • You are managing the difficult people, with whom you have been having recent troubles, and they seem to be complying with your requests
  • You are feeling strong and optimistic because you are managing your own mind.

If the above is true, can you see that you would have an inspiring effect on the others around you?

You can now "dish out" the same skills to others. Have the others become:

  • More goal focused
  • More communicative
  • More organised
  • More rational
  • More positive

And that will make them feel better and it will make them more effective.
You will be able to get the best from yourself and others. Which was our original assignment as "a Leader".

Here are the skills again: you need to learn more about:

  1. How to set and achieve goals
  2. How to communicate clearly
  3. How to manage time: Prioritise, plan, prepare and prevent problems
  4. How to manage conflict: Conflict of ideas, personalities and poor behaviour
  5. How to self-motivate; personal motivation, personal confidence, personal initiative
  6. How to motivate others. Inspire motivation, inspire confidence, and inspire initiative

Quiz: Team Leader Skills

Try our Team Leader Skills Quiz to to discover where your line manager skills are strong and where they are not as strong.

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Further Reading in Team Leadership

  • What are the Key Skills and Knowledge for Team Leaders?
    Team Leadership Development Are you interested in improving your abilities as a team leader? Or do you want to improve the leadership skills of the team leaders in your organisation? The team leaders have a pivotal role in your organisation, since they are the ones organising the implementation of the plan...
    Read Article >
  • What knowledge and skills are required by a team leader
    Team leaders can use these six skills sets to get the best from themselves and other people.
    Read Article >