Team Building: Power and Influence Within a Team
Every professional must master the skill of building and working within a team structure. It may be a permanent team of people or a temporary team brought together for a specific project or activity. In either case, your ability to lead a team and produce results is a critical part of your career success.
Your power and influence within a team does not come from your title, your position, or your seniority. It comes from your leadership skills and your team building skills. Without these, you will struggle to get the performance you need from the group.
Team building for permanent teams
The strategy for team building with a permanent group involves ongoing, daily effort and long-term oversight. As the team leader, you are responsible for building and maintaining an environment where each team member feels valued, respected, and fulfilled. This is a difficult job because inevitably your team is composed of different personalities, different work styles, and different ideas.
Let’s say you have been appointed team leader for an established group whose previous team leader is no longer there. This puts you in a position of coming into a group that is accustomed to a pattern of working together and probably sees you as a potential disruption to that comfortable pattern. Here are some tips for establishing your leadership in situations such as this.
1. Listen. Make a point of listening to the team members, individually and collectively. Give them an opportunity to tell you about themselves, both professionally and personally. Don’t make judgements based on hearsay or third party talk.
2. Observe. Watch how the team interacts with each other and with other people. See who tends to step forward quickly and who tends to hang back. Look for the person who others turn to for advice, guidance, and implicit leadership.
3. Expect. Even as you are listening and observing, set clear expectations for the team. Make sure they know what you expect from them in terms of communication, problem solving, performance and responsibility. This does not mean giving orders that are to be obeyed; it means laying out clear guidelines for behaviors and actions, and then modelling those behaviors and actions yourself.
4. Lead. This is a very small word with very big implications. To lead is to coach, guide, influence, decide, delegate, model, plan, implement, discipline, develop, and direct, just to name a few things. The leadership strategies you use will depend on the nature of the team, but you can be sure that if you don’t step forward and lead then someone else will. Be the leader so that you will be seen as the leader.
Team Building For Temporary Teams
Temporary teams may form for many reasons. There may be a specific project, a nagging problem, or planning and evaluation to be completed. Whatever the reason, team building and leadership of a temporary team have all of the same challenges discussed in the previous section plus many others. Your leadership task is to build a successful team in a situation where there may be time constraints, budget constraints, resource constraints, or institutional constraints.
Successful team building in these situations requires you to listen, observe, expect and lead more quickly and more effectively than ever before. Remember that team members may have another primary job in addition to serving on the team, so be sure to set expectations that are both firm and realistic. Be an advocate for your team members and foster positive team dynamics so that the group will attain success.