Motivating other team members to commit and engage in collective teamwork is not an easy task. Here are some useful tips to being a good team leader:
Facilitating psychological safety
Leaders play a key role ensuring that all team members feel safe to seek feedback, share information, experiment, ask for help, and talk about errors. Specifically, according to Edmonson (1999), leaders should:
- Frame the work as a learning problem, not an execution problem.
- Acknowledge your fallibility.
- Model curiosity and ask lots of questions.
Developing a shared team mental model
Team effectiveness will improve if there’s a shared understanding of the task, team, equipment, and situation (Kozlowski & Bell, 2012). As a team leader, you should:
- Set up a clear mission and vision for the team.
- Establish a shared and cooperative team goal. Revisit them as needed.
- Focus on team planning before starting the job task (DeChurch & Haas, 2008).
- Deliberate planning specifies a primary course of action.
- Contingency planning specifies backup plans.
- Reactive planning adapts plans to account for changing task conditions.
Understanding team transactive memory system
Team transactive memory is a team-level shared system for encoding, storing, and retrieving information regarding who knows what in the team. Transactive memory fosters better team performance (Pearsall, Ellis, & Bell, 2010). As a team leader, we recommend that you:
- Encourage communication.
- Appreciate each other’s expertise and understand from whom you can seek aid when necessary.
- Communicate about roles and responsibilities.
- This is especially important in the early stages of a team’s development cycle.
- Encourage frequent and periodic face-to-face meetings throughout the project.
- Virtual teams were found to have a hard time developing team transactive memory systems.
Facilitating effective team coordination and cooperation
To facilitate effective team coordination and cooperation, you are encouraged to:
- Foster a trusting team environment.
- Begin meetings with ice-breaker questions.
- Team-building activities.
- Know each team member’s expertise and personality. Invite contributions when necessary.
- Give feedback or rewards when team members contribute their ideas.