Helping you mobilise your inner resources to achieve your dreams

How to lead a team to success

I explained last week the differences between a group and a team, and used the Tuckman model to demonstrate the stages team members go through to become a cohesive, effective and purposeful unit.

But what about the leader? Angry Boss

If you’re the one everyone looks to for direction, how should you tackle, or react to, each different step of the team-building journey?

Juggling members’ differences and power struggles; accommodating the shift in team dynamics if members leave/join at any point; and guiding them through each stage so that their performance continually builds, is no mean feat.

Here’s what I think should be the most appropriate leadership style within each stage of Tuckman’s model.

  • Stage One: Forming. Members are wholly focused on adjusting to being put together with new people, in new situations. They’re unsure of their place in the group and are possibly nervous, and will look for an authority figure to steer them. Team leaders therefore need to be directive in their approach, but not dictatorial. They should be prepared to answer lots of questions and give feedback, in order to guide/inform members and progress them to the next stage as smoothly as possible.
  • Stage Two: Storming. As members’ confidence grows there may be clashing within the group as individuals try and find a position in the hierarchy they’re comfortable with. Differences in people’s personalities will undoubtedly rise to the surface but a good leader will see these as positives and look at any challenges as useful indications of how people within the team interact, and of each person’s strengths and weaknesses – even encouraging expression of any areas of disagreement or conflict so that they’re resolved. Otherwise, issues will cause tension to simmer under the surface, which impacts on and diminishes the team’s performance. Members may leave at this stage. Team leaders should therefore be able to adapt and maintain direction, taking a coaching approach to encourage team cohesion.
  • Stage Three: Norming. As the team learns what’s expected of them and individuals work alongside each other harmoniously, delegation can be introduced, to further boost the effectiveness and performance of the group. As a result of common goals, the feeling of community within the team strengthens and your leadership should garner respect. With the team eager to achieve and please, purpose and processes can be introduced. I recommend leaders use a consultative approach when delivering direction, so that the still-fragile structure of the team isn’t upset – only built upon.
  • Stage Four: Performing. As the team is effective and functional at this stage, little direction may be needed, though challenges and disagreements could still occur. It’s likely, however, that team members deal with differences themselves, in a positive way. The team, in effect, becomes self-managing. Too much direction may even impact the team negatively; instead, leaders should be facilitative and supportive, making sure everything runs smoothly and performance remains high.

friends down pubDealing with a group of people is always a challenge as the components of the team are likely to be so diverse. However, by adapting your leadership style, you will get the best out of your team at every stage, and everyone will feel a valued, equal member which helps the team perform better overall – the alternative is a disparate, unruly group, where members are focused only on themselves and little progress is made.

I’ve worked with many teams across my career – if you’d like further help with team-building or or details of my executive coaching service, contact me at angela.sabin@executive-life-coaching.co.uk


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