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How is Team Management Different from Team Leadership? Why Should I Worry?

What is a Team?


When it comes to leadership, three common but major challenges appear. These are how to best:

  • Provide inspiration;
  • Lead a team; and
  • Develop employee capacity.

In a previous blog post, you explored what it means to be inspirational. In the next few blog posts, you will explore what leadership means in a team context. Afterward, you will learn about leadership dedicated to the challenge of developing employees.

Just to recap: The basic premise for this and the succeeding blog posts is that management and leadership are distinctly different. Both are required, but somehow most managers tend to focus more on the management part of the job and neglect the leadership aspect. If you are in the service industry, this mindset will ultimately affect your guest experience.

In my view, team management is all about the operational, practical and tangible aspects of what the team does—tasks, timelines, delivery, budget, among others. It all needs to be looked after or else you will get into trouble.

But good management will only get you halfway or, at best, two-thirds of the way to what high performance would look like.

What is a Team?

Have you ever thought about what it takes for a group of people working together to transition into becoming a team? There are two things:

  • There needs to be a common goal.
  • There needs to be a mutual responsibility for reaching that goal.

It is not enough that you do your part on the team. You must also be concerned about how your team members are doing. If they are struggling, you must do whatever you can to ensure that they are also successful with their part of the job. That is teamwork.

It’s this last part that is tricky. It is relatively easy to establish a common goal, but establishing mutual responsibility is much, much harder.

In order for that to happen, there should be direction, alignment, and commitment (DAC). DAC is a neat concept about leadership developed by the Centre for Creative Leadership.

Here is a simple way to evaluate if all three of these elements are happening on your team:

If it is not happening, the obvious question is what do you need to do to make it happen? Because it’s not a management thing—you can’t create a spreadsheet or a 10-point checklist—nor can you push them that this is what needs to happen.

What you can do, however, is provide a space where your team members can co-create things with you, and that requires leadership.

In the next blog post, you will be able to look at another aspect of why your team needs leadership, which has something to do with the instability of organic systems.


Further Reading: Leadership: What, Why and How

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Mike Hohnen, MBA is a coach, trainer, author and public speaker who supports leaders, managers and their teams in implementing the principles of the Service Profit Chain.

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