How leaders can develop great teams in 5 steps

There are 5 stages leaders should follow when it comes to developing teams. Source: Thinkstock

Contrary to traditional thinking, leadership is not a role but a set of tasks, and leaders should follow a five-step approach to developing teams in order to maximise results, according to the authors of A Team of Leaders.

“One of the fundamental differences that we have with the traditional systems is that where some might see leadership as being a role, we see leadership as a set of tasks,” said Paul Gustavson, co-author of the book.

It is better to approach leadership from a staged development model, as he said this allows companies and leaders track and measure milestones in developing teams.

“This makes it easier to understand what they might need to do to help the team move to a higher point,” he said.

Furthermore, teams in which people are given little autonomy and responsibility and few chances to be involved in overall goals will only realise mediocre results, according to Stewart Liff, co-author of the book.

“You’re not going to get the energised and enthusiastic people that you want with traditional approaches,” he said.

They outlined a five stage model which is designed to help leaders improve team development:

Stage one: This where the leader provides direction and leadership, and through one-on-one meetings, they direct individuals to perform particular tasks.

Stage two: At this point, the leader continues to be the focal point for the leadership activities but provides most of the direction in a team setting.

“Whether it’s a huddle or a group meeting or a staff meeting or a team meeting, the direction still is the team leader directing either the individuals or the team,” said Gustavson, who noted that in that team setting, members begin to connect with one another around tasks that need to be done in order to meet the team’s objectives.

Stage three: “This is the stage where there are a couple of key members who begin to step up and take on leadership tasks that the formal leader tends to in stage one and two,” said Gustavson.

This could involve running a team meeting or perhaps conducting a performance analysis to see how a team has performed and identify any action that could be taken. It might also see team members sitting in on interviews with potential committee members.

Stage four: This stage is the beginning of a shared leadership structure among the team, in which most team members are able to step up and take on leadership tasks the formal leader was responsible for previously.

Gustavson explained that this is a fundamental role shift for the formal leader, as they become more of a coach and less of an immediate director for the team. “It frees the team leader to spend time on higher order work they were not able to do when they were in the earlier stages,” he said.

Stage five: This is where all the team members within the team are stepping up to the team leadership activities that the leader used to perform, and team leaders can now spend most of their time doing higher order work managing multiple teams.

The idea of having these distinct stages of development means that there’s a point where the team leader can measure how they are doing against these milestones, said Gustavson, who added that it makes it easier to understand what they might need to do to help the team move to a higher level.

By Chadielle Fayad