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The Qualities of a Good Team Leader

By: Jeff Durham - Updated: 21 Oct 2012 | comments*Discuss
Management Skills People Management

Many people think that good management skills are inherently bred into some people. No doubt you’ll have heard people utter the phrase, “he is a born leader.”

However, whilst there are those whose personality lends itself more to possessing good leadership qualities, most people management skills are learned and it’s usually a combination of education, a desire to obtain a team leader job and one’s own character make-up that make some of us ‘leaders’ and others team players.

Trust & Respect

Two vitally important leadership qualities which can’t be taught in the classroom are trust and respect. An effective team leader must be of exemplary character and have the trust and respect of the rest of the team. They must be able to demonstrate honesty and integrity in order to gain the respect of the team.

They’ll lead from the front and ‘pitch in’ wherever they’re needed. In other words, to get the best out of a team, you need to be able to ‘walk the talk’.

An Ability To Inspire

If a team leader isn’t passionate or dedicated to their work or to a particular cause, then how can they expect their team to be? Effective management skills include the ability to be able to inspire even if that means getting dirty and rolling up sleeves and getting stuck in yourself.

Confidence & Reassurance

Good team leaders need to be confident in order to inspire confidence in the rest of the team. Even in times of uncertainty, they need to be able to offer reassurance to others and to maintain a cool head.

Identifying & Communicating Goals

If you’re leading a team, one of the most important management skills you need to have is an ability to look at the overall picture of a project and to draw out the key elements of the task and to be able to break it down into smaller components.

It’s also crucial to be able to delegate particular responsibilities within the overall task to the various members of the team in an unambiguous manner so that each member is clear about what is expected of them.

Knowing Your Team Members Inside Out

Good team leaders get to know the personalities of the individual team members thoroughly. They’ll understand what each member’s strengths and weaknesses are and what skills and talents each of them possess. This is vitally important when assigning certain tasks to individuals.

They’ll also have a good understanding of what makes each individual ‘tick’ and what motivates them. Knowing each team member well also helps in times of adversity as a team leader job involves demonstrating effective people management skills and knowing which members respond better to a kick up the backside and which ones require more of an ‘arm around the shoulder’ approach.


Good management skills also require you to be consistent. Team leaders might have their own specific styles which work effectively and they might differ from another team leader’s approach considerably. However, one of the biggest complaints about managers is that some fail to show consistency.

People like to know where they stand and what is expected of them so whilst changes do occur which might require changing tack at short notice, keep things as simple and straightforward as possible so that team members know where they stand and what is expected of them.

Accept Criticism & Encourage Ideas & Input

One of the ironies of being considered a good team leader and having excellent management skills and leadership qualities is that the more recognised you become, the more likely you’ll get the opportunity to work with several different teams over the course of your working life. As a consequence of that, you’re also more likely to encounter some people who don’t take to you and who will criticise you.

A team leader job requires that you sometimes need to have a thick skin and not to take criticism personally. In fact, as long as any criticism is constructive, it should be welcomed as it can often enable you to improve your leadership style.

Ideas and input should also be encouraged from the rest of the team. They are, after all, often the people who are at the ‘sharp end’ of a project and so their opinions should be greatly encouraged.

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A good team leader uses the strengths of different team members effectively to achieve the best results, and pairs people up, singly or in groups, so they complement each other well, He (or she) should also know more about the project or business than the others, in order to be able to plan and answer questions effectively.
The Leader - 18-Sep-12 @ 4:07 PM
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