A strong team can accomplish a lot, and a strong leader can help that team accomplish even more. Team leaders may be a strong staff member who is responsible for the direction of just a few employees, or they may be the person in charge of a team of hundreds. Whether the organization is large or small, team leaders typically have a set of responsibilities that include providing motivation, feedback and structure for others.
The team leader sets the tone for the entire group. That means a team leader has to provide the motivation to keep other team members going. It also means being vigilant and knowing when she can push her team to accomplish more and when she needs to back off. Team leaders may also have to respond to the needs of team members, doling out breaks and lunch breaks and covering for sick or absent employees.
A team leader may also be responsible for helping other members of the team set goals that move the entire team forward -- or for setting team goals. This means first assessing what each team member's capabilities and job duties are, and then working with each team member to set weekly, monthly, quarterly or yearly goals. If the team member has to set group goals, it requires good communication skills to convey the message and make sure all employees are up to speed.
The team leader also needs to be organized enough to check in with team members on a regular basis about their progress. Setting goals is one beneficial way to monitor an employee's progress -- and those goals provide a clear-cut mechanism for feedback. When an employee doesn't meet goals, it's a clear sign they're not doing their jobs well, or they need to make adjustments to perform better. When an employee is not performing well, it's often up to the team leader to discipline the employee and help her work on improving.
Team leaders often work side by side with other employees, but they need to take steps to stay professional and maintain control of the situation. The "soft skills" that may not be on a team leader job description include things such as compassion, respect and flexibility, but that job description should also include firmness and professionalism. Team leaders need to use these skills to maintain good relations with the staff, while at the same time conveying that they're firmly in charge. If you're overly buddy-buddy with an employee, it may become tougher to reprimand that employee when they're not performing.