The quality of leadership within a group impacts its success or failure more than any other factor. Leading is truly a privilege, one that signifies that you’ve achieved the stature, trust, experience, and ability needed to drive the team forward.
But acting as a team leader without agreement on what’s expected can be challenging. That’s because in the absence of clear, written expectations, people make up their own. And when you don’t have agreement from the team and its stakeholders on what’s expected in your role as leader, disappointment and frustration can—and often do—ensue.
As you consider each item on the leadership expectations list below, ask yourself these questions:
- Is this attribute expected of me in my role as leader?
- If so, is that expectation crystal clear between me, my team members, and other team stakeholders or firm leaders? Should I clarify this with others?
- If this is expected of me, how am I doing in this area? Is this a place where I should focus on improving to become a more impactful, better leader?
- If this is not expected in my role, who is responsible for this and is that clear to everyone involved?
When defining expectations for an organization, department, initiative, or team leader, we can describe the leader as acting as the team’s head, heart, face, voice, and hands. Each of these areas calls for the leader to apply different talents to think about, protect, represent, grow, speak, and act on behalf of the team. Following is a look at those talents.
- Leads the team in developing a compelling mission, vision, values, strategies, and objectives (chief strategist).
- Devises a plan for monitoring and measuring progress toward the team’s goals (progress manager).
- Thinks about the team and its mission, progress, and challenges while at and away from work. Also conceives of ideas and solutions to enhance team success (owner).
- Dreams about the future of the team and how market forces and opportunities could impact the team’s success (visionary).
- Considers how best to organize the team to maximize the highest and best use of resources toward the agreed-upon team objectives. Also ensures team roles and responsibilities are defined in writing (role definer).
- Assesses and manages risk for the team (protector).
- Transfers knowledge to others to ensure team continuity, growth, and success (teacher).
- Lives and defends the team’s shared values and defined, agreed-upon behaviors (cultural guardian).
- Ensures that team members’ needs, wants, and motivators are met (people champion).
- Looks for ways to help team members grow and evolve their skills and abilities (developer).
- Gives credit for team successes to team members first (promoter of others).
- Instills a spirit of positivity, fun, and even excitement to the team’s mission, activities, and interactions (mindset manager).
- Takes an unpopular stand and enters into conflict to achieve the team’s shared vision and goals (courageous).
- Projects the team’s primary outward-facing leadership image (ambassador).
- Takes responsibility first to any team failures and meets disappointment and upset head on (accountable person).
- Participates in team events and meetings (involved and committed).
- Visible and available to those on the team and those who interact with the team (accessible).
- Shares team vision, strategies, and tactics with all team members and stakeholders (enroller).
- Defines the degree and directness of sharing engaged in by the team (transparency trendsetter).
- Plans for and executes internal and external communications to ensure team members and stakeholders are informed (communicator).
- Establishes the tone for group meetings and communications (mood setter).
- Raises issues and concerns related to a lack of progress or performance by the team or individual contributors to ensure course corrections occur (straight talker).
- Plays a contributing role in meeting the team’s objectives (team player).
- Assists team members in removing roadblocks or overcoming obstacles (problem solver).
- Follows through on promises made to team members and made by the team to others (commitment keeper).
- Undertakes difficult actions and executes tough decisions for the greater good of the team and its stakeholders (guardian).
- Models expected behaviors (example setter).
To become the highest-functioning leader you can be, first clear up any murkiness that exists. Document what’s expected in your role and the role of others in leadership, considering these important attributes as you do.
Then, reflect on this list and ask others for input on how well you’re meeting these leadership expectations. Identify areas where you can improve and take steps to lead your team more effectively in 2014. When you do, your team’s performance will significantly improve, too.
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Jennifer Wilson is a partner and co-founder of ConvergenceCoaching LLC, a leadership and marketing consulting and coaching firm that helps leaders achieve success. Learn more about the company and its services at www.convergencecoaching.com.