Team leaders are needed in all spheres of organizational life. This includes marketing, R&D, engineering, production, quality assurance, information systems, human resources, accounting and finance, and all the rest. It also includes first-level management, middle-level management, and upper-level management. The need for team leaders is not limited to particular spheres.
We should now address this question: What is meant by “team leadership”? Especially important is the question: How does team leadership differ from heroic leadership?
The concept of team leadership seems to indicate different things to different managers. Thus, a useful point of leaving is to state what team leadership is not.
Team leadership is not pure democratic leadership.
Democratic leadership means putting the various decisions up for vote, and the majority rules. Experience shows that if the group leader typically uses this approach for decision making, it will split the group into subgroups, with each subgroup protecting its own turf.
Team leadership is not management by committee.
The concept of “committee” usually is associated with academic institutions. Committees oftentimes suffer from lack of clear responsibility, authority, and accountability. Consequently, they are hamstrung in their efforts to achieve results. There is little to no relation between management by committee and team leadership.
Team leadership does not mean involving the staff in every management decision.
I have known a few inexperienced managers who assumed that team management meant that the team should be involved in every decision. Because of the large number of management decisions that must be made daily, such an approach would be inefficient and almost impossible to carry out. Team leadership means that the staff members are involved in those key decisions that influence their work. This does not necessarily mean that they will make the decisions; rather, they will contribute their ideas to these decisions. With team leadership, we must bear in mind that the manager in charge is still responsible for the quality of the decisions, as well as for their successful execution.
Team leadership is not manipulative management.
Some managers are still possessed by the spirit of Machiavelli. These are managers who want to make their people think that they are participating in key decisions when in fact they are not. This type of management is indecent. Most people would prefer to work for an honest autocrat rather than for a pseudo-participative manager. Team leadership is authentic leadership. “Playing games” with people is not part of the scene.