Work Culture

How to Lead in a Team-Oriented Way

By on September 29, 2022

In about three years from now, 30% of the world’s population and 27% of the workforce will comprise Gen Z. To put that in perspective; there are currently 2 billion people in the Gen Z category! It’s safe to say that these numbers in connection with the workforce are only set to increase.

This group of our population born between 1995 and 2009 is wired differently! They have unique priorities, mindsets, and beliefs. Why is this important to business, and why must organizations care? Because companies must adapt to the changing times. We’ve seen how crucial it is for products to develop and change as people’s tastes and needs change. In the same way, organizations must adapt and change their workforce, especially if they want to attract and retain the best talent.

Change cannot happen overnight, and not all organizational cultures can undergo drastic change. It must occur in alignment with the business environment you are in. Moreover, change is difficult and painful, so it’s better to be prepared and make gradual changes with an eye on the future. This list of management tools will help you adapt better. 

One change that must be effected in some way or another is a change in leadership style. There has been a gradual shift from task-oriented leadership to team-oriented leadership. This has happened, considering people do not work in silos; they work in teams. A manager’s performance is dependent on how well her team performs. And therefore, the focus has changed to include the well-being and welfare of groups. 

But this cannot be considered in a vacuum; there is no right or wrong leadership style. It depends on what you’re doing, what needs doing, and how best it can be done. It’s impractical and impossible to focus only on people and not worry about task completion or deadlines. The best approach would be to balance the two, but let’s take a quick look at what defines the two leadership styles. 

What does it mean to be team-oriented?

Task-oriented leaders work best in a structured environment and with well-defined goals. They are stringent about schedules and targets for getting tasks completed. They work on a reward and punishment system. Teams are given clear instructions on what is to be done, how it is to be done, and when it is expected to be completed. Not too different from a teacher, handing out class assignments.  

In contrast, a team-oriented leadership style is team-focused. While team-oriented leaders cannot ignore goals and targets, they ensure the completion of tasks and achievement of targets by motivating the team to achieve these. Rather than push their ideas, the team is consulted for opinions and inputs. Teamwork is encouraged and rewarded. The whole team has an almost equal stake in the project. While team-oriented leaders allocate tasks or projects, the team is allowed to decide or have an opinion on how best the work can be done. 

Here are a few more characteristics of team-oriented leadership:

  • The focus of these companies, and consequently, of the various internal teams, is on the people
  • Productivity is valued, and therefore, there is a concern for the employees – both at work and independent of it
  • The skills of each team member are recognized and leveraged accordingly
  • Diversity is not only acknowledged; it becomes an integral part of team composition and distribution
  • Communication is clear, and opinions and ideas are sought from the team
  • Activities are focused on making teams more cohesive, forging better relationships, and building trust

Examples of good team leadership

Good leaders understand that leadership is not all about them. They can extract the best from each team member while developing them to improve their weaker aspects. They create an environment of trust, empathy, and consistency. They ensure that the team is recognized and rewarded for their efforts.

Good team leadership is demonstrated by:

  • Effective communication – Since the focus here is on people, communication is key! A good team-oriented leader must communicate effectively with the team and ensure clear communication between team members. There must be no ambiguity in work priorities, deadlines, and deliverables. The team must be encouraged to contribute their ideas, opinions, and input. But this process should be managed with care – participation must be equal but not forced. 
  • Empathy – Since this management style is people-centric, the heart plays a big part. Empathetic team leadership means demonstrating an understanding of the team’s challenges and strengths, making allowances for personal circumstances, and boosting employee morale. Support, encouragement, and mentoring are greatly appreciated. 
  • Integrity – Most work is expected to be done in teams; therefore, trust is paramount. This has to begin with the team leader. The team must trust that the person in-charge has their best interests. The team leader must also validate and credit the team for their performance and for surpassing or achieving their goals. Rather than shining a spotlight on individuals, it is the team that must receive praise.
  • Management – There must be a balance between managing the work assigned, project deadlines, and the team’s welfare. Therefore, the team leader must be able to harness the best of every team member and allocate available resources to guarantee the achievement of the targets set.

Benefits of team-oriented leadership

Every organization wants to be known as the ‘workplace of choice’ with the best output from their employees and more engaged workers. Introducing team-oriented leadership or strengthening this leadership style within teams or the organization is a great place to start.

It is also the perfect way to attract Gen Z – the workforce of the future – because:

  • They prefer leaders who will empower them and are collaborators rather than commanders.
  • They prefer to get their advice from forums, which means they are more comfortable in groups rather than with seeking or receiving advice from experts or orders from officials. 
  • Team-oriented leadership encourages teamwork and therefore builds a sense of community and belonging. This is significant for Gen Z. They value balance between work and play and protect their well-being and mental health. The amount they earn is lower on their priority list than you might think! 
  • This leadership style focuses on individual skills and talents and values unique abilities, another aspect of great consequence for Gen Z. They want to be valued and allowed to work on what they are best at. 

Steps you can take to build team-oriented leadership

Understanding that not all companies or departments can have 100% team-oriented leadership is essential. But some of the better and easy-to-implement aspects of this leadership style can be adopted.

  • Follow the Leader: The first step is to have a leader open to accepting and implementing this leadership style significantly since it alters work culture. Team-oriented leaders are comfortable with the decision-making process not being centralized; they quickly credit their teams for a job well done. However, they understand that the responsibility of managing and getting the best out of their units still lies with them. 
  • Set Strong Boundaries: With this leadership style, which seems almost casual, it is imperative to develop and adhere to boundaries. Some decisions will not be team decisions or will not be referred to the team. Sometimes, the group’s conclusion is not implemented or is overruled. Some lines cannot be crossed. This must be clear to everyone. 
  • Promote Teamwork: Not everyone likes working in groups, but for a team to function effectively and efficiently, everyone must contribute. Assigning more work to be done in teams is a great way to promote team-oriented leadership. This will allow teams to ease into the habit of collaborating and working together. Rewards and accolades must be given to the team, as must any criticism and brickbats. Building a culture of appreciation goes hand-in-hand with promoting teamwork. 
  • Encourage Diversity: Though there is comfort in familiarity, teams in which a majority has the same skill set will not be successful. Diversity plays a vital role in balancing available skills and talent. It also allows team members to appreciate and celebrate differences. While deciding which company to work for, Gen Z considers diversity, equity, and inclusion in the workplace as significant organizational characteristics.
  • Hiring policies: To encourage team-oriented leadership, the organization must have leaders that appreciate and are open to this leadership style. The employees within the organization should show significant attributes of being team players. Therefore, team-oriented leadership must start at the time of recruitment. 

Team-oriented leadership does seem to be the way of the future, but there are several aspects to consider before making this significant change in functioning. The mission, vision, values, company objectives, and the nature of the business will all play a part in determining when, how, and to what extent this leadership style can be adopted.

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