University of Vermont

Building Capacity

team leadershipTeam Leadership

The team leadership model presented in this module is based on a long history of research and study dating back to the early 1920’s and developing to the current focus of placing leadership at the core of effective team performance.  Tasks for the leader include: analysis of the internal (organizational context) and external (environmental context) situation; making decisions on whether and how to intervene to improve the team functioning; and  using  appropriate behaviors to move the team toward effective team-based problem solving.  Lessons learned are practical in designing as well as maintaining effective teams.

What are some of the characteristics of a Team functioning at the highest level of excellence?  (Focus of interviews)

  • Clear, elevating goal: Team goals need to be very clear so that one can tell if the performance objective has been realized.  The goal needs to be involving or motivating so that the members believer it to be worthwhile and important.
  • Results-driven structure: Teams need to find the best structure to accomplish their goals. All teams need to have clear roles for group members, a good communication system, methods to diagnose individual performance, and an emphasis on fact-based judgments.
  • Competent team members: Groups should be composed of the right number and mix of members to accomplish all the tasks of the group.  Members need to be provided with sufficient information, education, and training to become or to remain competent members. 
  • Unified commitment: Teams do not just happen; they need to be carefully designed and developed. 
  • Collaborative climate: Trust based on honesty, openness, consistency, and respect seems to be essential for building a collaborative climate in which members can stay problem focused, be open with one another, listen to each other, feel free to take risks, and be willing to compensate for each other.
  • Standards of excellence: Effective group norms are very important for group functioning. The standards need to be clear and concrete and all team members need to be required to perform to standard.
  • External support: High functioning teams meet money, equipment, or supplies to accomplish the goals. Reward the work on difficult team assignments in terms of raises or bonuses for that performance.
  • Principled leadership: Effective team leadership is a central driver of team effectiveness influencing the team through four sets of processes: cognitive (understand the problems confronting the team); motivational (helps the team become cohesive and capable by setting high performance standards and helping the group to achieve them); affective ( handle stressful circumstances by providing clear goals, assignments, and strategies); and coordination (matching members’ skills to roles, providing clear performance strategies, monitoring feedback, and adapting to environmental changes).  

Hill's model for team leadership
Hill's Model for Team Leadership

E. Rowe July 6, 2011

Last modified August 15 2011 03:51 PM

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