Characteristics of a good Team Leader

Although I am not a management guru, over the years I have been going through lot of situations under my mentors, leaders and company managers. It's true that my knowledge would not even reach to great people who have already given their opinions on this topic, here is the list of ideal characteristics of good leader from my personal standpoint.

  • Leader should exemplify from his own actions

    In short he must walk the talk. When you discipline your subordinate to follow certain procedures and rules, it is implicit that you follow them too. Being regular slack and inclination to ignore them just because you are superior to rest of the team in not an excuse. Not that you'll be fired, but your employees will begin imitating you and entire process and standards you set forth will be gradually forgotten
  1. Should be punctual
    This might be in terms of following your time table to do pre-planned things or attending meetings in time. I know people who create a calendar event with much fanfare and then fail to follow it in the long run. It defeats the purpose of schedule. Plus if you don't follow the schedule, you will gather everyone at awkward and random times which will disrupt their work flow or potentially these random meetings will collide with their existing meetings too since no one may have seen it coming in advance

  2. Should be friends with your co-workers
    I have seen a culture of team leaders where they try to be intimidating to their subordinates in terms of promotions, job security and work quality. This is agin counter productive. By intimidating, you have just forced them to work in mechanical fashion. Instead try to be their mentor and instill the sense of responsibility and accountability in fellow employees. This will gain confidence for them and respect for you

  3. Actively participate in solving problems
    This is important in the context of newer employees. A new person might be scared at first with the size of team or company. He will be frequently burdened by problems he has never seen. Team leader can help to provide pointers for him and if required even pair with him to guide him step by step through process. Obviously this only applies for certain type of challenging problems and only in certain situations. By doing so, a team leader can assess the capability of employee and gauge his predisposition towards specific area

  4. Imbibe the sense of innovation
    Everybody knows how to follow process and how to work that has been setup by senior management in advance. But good team leader should be able to take input from employees since they are the ones who are integral part of this system. They can look for inefficiencies, redundancies and ways to improve current process. Innovation and creativity are the pillars of any organization and it is even more true for start ups. This will indeed need brain storming and participation of mid managers and higher level executives, but employees will have say in this discussion too. By doing so, they will take active part in the process and will give rise to iterative process improvement

  5. Ask for what they need to do their job better
    Not every employee is going to be an extrovert and be vocal about his demands. This is the time of one on one meetings with employee and asking him for inputs on his problems, issues and any infrastructure needs. May this be online courses, books or hardware. I understand that it is employees' responsibility to bring these issues up, but asking them one on one once in a while will also give them confidence to ask for something they are entitled for. That being said, you don't have to fulfill their every demand. But listen to them, if possible provide what they want. If it's not possible try to reason about it. However, if it is big hurdle in their work, have additional talk with senior management about fulfilling requirements

Most of these are just things out of common sense. But it's also employee's duty to help team leader accomplishing his goals. If you feel any issue, try to switch your rolls hypothetically and visualize what your action would be in that case. Is that fair or impartial behavior. In case of any concern, never try to make gossip to third person. Try to talk to your leader and put forward your reasoning and things that are bothering you