In today’s global business environment, the best laid plans, the greatest technology, and the best equipment will produce average results unless they are organized and utilized by a skilled and proficient leader. You must be able to inspire people to follow your lead. No matter how technically capable you are, you won’t be effective as a leader unless you gain the willing cooperation of others. You are the team’s coach, captain, quarterback, cheerleader, and fan all rolled into one. You are the critical lynch pin between the organization’s goals and your team. Your success in leading your department, team, or business unit to greater results and profitability lies in your true leadership ability.
It wasn’t always this way. An American mechanical engineer, Frederick W. Taylor (1856 – 1915) who sought to improve industrial efficiency, created a set of principles which came to be called Scientific Management. The basic assumption was a supervisor of the past could derive maximum productivity from workers by scientifically breaking down the required production tasks into the smallest possible units, and then assigning each worker a definite task with a definite time allocation and a definite manner for getting the task done. Other industrial engineers soon added to the basic principles of Scientific Management with a host of techniques and practices: written instruction cards for each task, sophisticated scheduling systems, job descriptions, and a lot of time and motions studies. None of these practices were inherently bad.
In fact, if you study modern supervisory texts, you’ll find that some of the same techniques that came out of Scientific Management are still advocated as being essential for good management. But, by the mid 1930’s, the basic premise of Scientific Management was in question. It was a good system, in theory, that had never been able to deliver the results it so thoroughly sought. Why not? Scientific Management was an attempt to engineer human activity without reasonable consideration for the human element. It was an attempt to engineer activity in much the same way someone would program a computer. By the mid 1930’s, theorists from the human relations movement began to show that motivated workers delivered better results.
These studies, and countless others, have all yielded a common truth: the best systems and procedures will produce limited results unless they are administered with full recognition of the fact that the team members who are to implement the systems and procedures are human, and need to be managed, motivated, and guided by an effective leader.
As a team leader you must do much more than manage and supervise. You must gain the trust and willing cooperation of those who look to you for leadership. You must learn to use all of your strengths by recognizing, developing, and utilizing the talents of your team. Because of the function and role of a team leader, it’s obvious that good team leaders are critically important to the success of an organization.
Studies at Stanford Research Institute, Harvard University, and the Carnegie Foundation have proven that 85% of the reason you get a job, keep a job, and move ahead in that job has more to do with people skills and people development. Remember, a team leader is responsible for: planning, organizing, staffing, motivating, and evaluating results. Most importantly, they need to exhibit an intangible collection of skills and abilities we commonly identify as leadership. A team leader has to be able to get results through his or her team!