Scaling The Ladder

A team is as good as its leader

If you want to have successful teams in your organisation, make sure you have successful leaders. What do I mean by this?

The way a team is led has a major impact on its success. In fact, when I asked team members from within a large financial institution what they wanted from a team leader, they identified the following values:


Team members want to trust and be trusted. They felt it was important to be able to trust their team leader to actually do what he said he was going to do.

This works both ways — team members also want to be trusted to uphold their part of the bargain and deliver the goods.

Trust is the outcome of kept promises and is something that is earned, not bought or obtained easily. Trust was the number one issue raised by team members.


Most team members put relationships within the team ahead of the tasks it was responsible for. Feeling valued and part of the team is an important component and allowed each team member to contribute as a valued individual.

A good team leader will spend time supporting his staff and build a commitment to the team through this support. He must never lose sight of the task, and also the value of the individuals within the team.


Team members want strong leaders — people who are willing to lead from the front, take responsibility and make the right decisions.

Having said that, the overwhelming response to my survey in the financial institution was also that staff want a leader who is willing to lead from behind. By this I mean a leader who serves the team members to enable them to achieve their goals within the constraints of the organisation.

This can sometimes be a delicate balancing act between getting the job done and catering to the needs of the individuals within the team.

A leader who supports his staff by allocating appropriate resources or cutting red tape to achieve an outcome is highly valued by the team. It may at times be at odds with the organisational culture, but has positive results in terms of productivity and loyalty.


Team members want to be inspired and have a leader who takes them to the next level. They want to be motivated and work with a leader who has energy for the task and the team.

People recognise that not every leader has all the answers, but they want to know that he can draw on the knowledge and experience of the other people around him in the team.


Team members want a leader who will take responsibility and work to quickly fix problems if and when they arise. This process must be one where the team grows as a result of the leader’s actions. This means the leader may have to admit the issue was his fault or a result of his actions.

This is not about finding a scapegoat, it is simply about taking responsibility. Team members value leaders who are willing to admit they made a mistake and support them through the fall-out from that mistake.


A group of workers becomes a team when there is a synergy between all its members. The team leader may have to experiment with different styles of leadership to bring the team together.

Recognising the strengths and weaknesses of team members, establishing accountability and clear roles are important steps in creating this synergy among team members.

A good team leader will recognise the need to adapt his style to fit the needs of the group.


Finally, the team members I surveyed unanimously wanted to have fun at work. Comments abounded about the best team leader who made coming to work fun and enjoyable. Fun is compulsory in successful teams! - Source: Singapore Straits Times/Asia News Network

Article by Lindsay Adams, an international speaker with Training Edge International and the president of Global Speakers Federation.