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How do you become a successful team leader?

Reading time 9 minutes
How do you become a successful team leader?

Every company needs certain structures in order to function successfully. Even if the hierarchies in most companies are no longer as pronounced as they were in earlier times, each employee should still know his or her tasks and competencies. A team leader, as the name suggests, leads a work team. This includes, among other things, numerous organizational tasks.

In the following article you will learn what exactly a Team leader and what skills he or she has. We also explain how you can become a team leader and what other career opportunities this could open up for you.

What is a team leader?

A team leader holds a management position within the company - but at the lowest hierarchical level. This is because there are superiors who are authorised to issue instructions to him. He acts as a link between the management and the employees, so to speak. The next superior of the team leader is the head of department. This scheme is used in almost every industry.

The team leader position is often the first promotion on the career path of young people. But the career is also possible in later years of the career, of course. The team leader is responsible for a rather small group of workers. Most of the time it is about five to eight people. However, this varies depending on the structure and size of the company.

A newly promoted team leader gets the chance to find out how resilient he is and how much responsibility he can bear. If he does a good job, a promotion to department head is conceivable. Some former team leaders have even been promoted to the top management level. However, this is a long road of several years.

What are the responsibilities of a team leader?

Have you recently been promoted to team leader or are you aiming for this? Then you should familiarize yourself with the tasks involved. First and foremost, you organise the work processes within your team. This includes the distribution and delegation of work assignments. You communicate objectives and motivate your team to achieve them. In doing so, you convey the values of the company.

Of course, you will also be confronted with interpersonal challenges. If there are tensions in the team, your task as a team leader is to mediate between the parties. Holding regular team meetings is also part of your job. During these meetings, current topics and suggestions for change are discussed. You are responsible for the implementation.

Let us come back to the aspect of Employee motivation back. This also includes providing appropriate support for individual employees. Every person has his or her strengths and weaknesses. A good team leader succeeds in recognizing these and using them profitably. Only a satisfied team can produce good work. Take the wishes and suggestions of your employees seriously.

Let's summarize the five most important tasks of a team leader once again:

  1. Organisation (distribution of tasks, holiday planning, deadlines)
  2. Communication (within the teams, with the management)
  3. Employee motivation (praise, constructive criticism, feedback)
  4. Disciplinary intervention (intervening when problems arise)
  5. Content-related cooperation (depending on the volume of tasks)

What skills should a good team leader have?

From the description of the areas of responsibility it can already be deduced that a team leader should have a high level of social competence. This generally applies to every manager, regardless of how many employees report to him.

In addition, you should have the following qualities:

  • Diligence
  • Sense of responsibility
  • Assertiveness
  • Self-confidence
  • Expertise in the relevant area of responsibility
  • Creativity
  • Patience
  • Fairness

It is important that you regularly reflect on yourself and your leadership style. Only then can you recognize and implement necessary changes. However, if you suffer from strong Self-doubt and anxiety, the position of team leader is (currently) not right for you. A team leader should have a stable personality without putting himself on a pedestal.

Another important point we would like to discuss in more detail is fairness. As a team leader, you should refrain from personal antipathies and view team conflicts with the necessary objectivity. Never let yourself be carried away into deliberately disadvantaging or even mocking individual team members. This behavior rubs off on the entire team and poisons the atmosphere.

Also, be aware that all of the team's concerns and issues converge on your desk. Without the necessary organizational skills, you run the risk of getting bogged down. Prioritise tasks and make sure you keep a diary where you note down the most important deadlines. As the team leader, you always bear the ultimate responsibility for any mistakes or omissions made by the team.

How old and experienced does a team leader need to be?

As mentioned at the beginning, team leaders are usually, if not necessarily, rather young managers. The latter often have to contend with the prejudice of inexperience. A higher age and the accompanying longer professional experience automatically convey competence. Young team leaders therefore have to prove themselves more than their older colleagues.

Of course, there should be a sufficient level of expertise as well as practical experience in the respective field. Ultimately, however, it is not the years of life that matter, but the personal skills. Even a young manager can exude authority and integrity. Once you have proven your competence, age should no longer be an issue.

The important thing is that you don't let yourself get rattled. This is sometimes easier said than done. Therefore, it makes sense to continuously work on your personal development. A good option is, for example, coaching training as a basis for your career plans. We will inform you about this in more detail later.

What are not duties of a team leader?

The tasks and competences of a team leader are limited. For example, he is not allowed to make personnel decisions. Hiring, terminations and salary increases are the responsibility of the management. Since the team leader naturally knows his team members best, he is nevertheless asked for his opinion. For his part, he is allowed to suggest personnel changes, but not to implement them on his own.

Furthermore, he does not decide on the objectives of the company. The team leader receives information from his superiors about the tasks to be performed and the deadline within which they are to be completed by the team. The team leader forwards the objectives and ensures that they are met with skilful organisation. However, his personal opinion regarding the targets is irrelevant.

Disciplinary measures also fall outside the scope of the team leader's duties. If he notices inappropriate behaviour or poor work performance on the part of individual team members, he must make a note of this and pass it on to the HR department. He/she may not sanction his/her employees independently. The personnel department and management decide on the type of sanction.

It depends on the company

The question of where a team leader's authority ends can hardly be answered in general terms. Some companies grant their team leaders more authority than others. It may well be the case, for example, that the areas of responsibility listed above (apart from the determination of the Company goals) may well be taken over by team leaders. However, this is not the case in most companies.

The human resources world in digital transformation

A team leader of today has to deal with completely different topics than a manager of 20 or 30 years ago. Keyword: globalization and digitalization. Working in a home office is becoming increasingly popular, and not just since the corona pandemic. Some companies cooperate with teams from different locations or countries. Physical presence is no longer a matter of course.

As a team leader, you should always be approachable for your work team. But how can you do that if you hardly ever see each other in person? Nevertheless, try to keep in touch with your team members on a regular basis, be it via video call or email. Even team meetings can now easily take place via video call. The danger is to forget this because of the distance.

Here the keyword is again: organization and communication. Keep track of which tasks still need to be done and when you last communicated with whom. If your team works internationally, there are also time differences to consider. It is therefore advisable for every team leader to keep a digital calendar.

How can you become a team leader?

There is no specific guidance for becoming a team leader. In most cases, these are employees who have distinguished themselves through special achievements and have been promoted as a result. Some team leaders have been employed in the respective company since their training, others have completed a relevant degree. Career changers are also no longer a rarity these days.

Sometimes the position of team leader is advertised internally, so you can apply for it. If you have excelled in your work for years, your chances of being promoted to team leader are not bad. However, there is no guarantee. Nevertheless, it should be noted that good work performance will pave your way to a management position.

Most companies conduct regular feedback interviews. Take this opportunity to talk openly with your manager about your career opportunities and ideas. New work teams may be formed soon and you could be responsible for one of them. Personal initiative is not infrequently the key to success.

What does a team leader earn?

This question cannot be answered in a general way, as the salary depends strongly on the industry. If you search the internet for average salaries, you will find widely varying figures. Basically, the bigger and more successful the company, the higher the earning potential. The size of the team you lead also influences your earnings.

To give you at least a rough idea, we have researched the average salaries in the relevant industries:

  • Team leader marketing: 38.600,00 € - 65.400,00 € / year
  • Team leader industry: 29.700,00 € - 53.880 € / year
  • Team leader IT: 55.000,00 € - 65.000,00 € / year
  • Team leader engineering: 30.500,00 € - 54.400,00 € / year
  • Team leader sales: 36.750,00 € - 67.300,00 € / year

Some sources even indicate earnings of over €100,000 per year. In large corporations, this is quite realistic. Sometimes bonuses are even added. As a young professional, however, you should be prepared for a lower starting salary, which can of course increase over the years.

Create your base

In addition to professional competence, a team leader must have a solid personality profile. Personnel management, even with manageable responsibility, requires certain coaching skills: motivating employees will ultimately be one of your main tasks. In order to prepare you for this in the best possible way, a prior training makes sense. Training as a Business Coach Sense.

Our professionally sound and expert-led Greator Business Coach training supports you in reaching the next level professionally. The content is aimed at managers (also in the future), self-employed and coaches. Benefit from the latest findings in neuroscience. The methods learned are easy to apply and extremely effective.

You hesitate because you are very busy at work? That's not an obstacle at all, because the training takes place online! You can integrate it flexibly into your everyday life, whenever and wherever you want.

At the end of the training you will complete a theoretical and practical final exam. If you pass, you will receive the Greator Business Coach Certificate, which can open many doors for you professionally. This applies to a possibly planned self-employment as well as for better promotion opportunities in your current job. Inform yourself best still today.

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Reviewed by Dr. med. Stefan Frädrich

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