Managing a team leader is not entirely different from the way you manage a team member. The strategies for managing team leaders require the same principles for managing team members. As a manager, you must provide all the necessary resources the team leader needs to lead successfully.
Your team leader must have some authority to make decisions and space to think independently.
But, having a team leader moves the manager a little further away from team members, but it is still your team. The team leader does not remove you from the day to day responsibility of managing the team.
What changes is that you step back a bit from the frontline and start supporting the team through your team leader. So, you go through your team leader to manage team members, and you can only succeed if your team leader is successful.
Here is how to manage a team leader:
1. Coach Your Team Leader to Succeed
Be selfless, and help your team leader grow by having continuous coaching conversations. Many team leaders tend to have specific knowledge of a job gained from their previous roles as contributors. They also have experience of working with each other and organizing their work.
What they usually lack is the experience to lead people, and people management is an essential skill for anyone leading a team. So, it is essential you coach and guides your team leader to know how to lead the team the right way. Watch out for the way you do your coaching.
What separates an effective manager from an average one is coaching. Coaching is not directing people to do things the way you want. There must be trust between you and the team member first before a coaching relationship starts.
Do not just turn up on your team leader’s desk and dictate – I want to teach you so that you improve on this or whichever objective you want. First, get permission from your team leader to allow you to coach them.
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2. Let Your Team Leader Make Decisions
A team leader must have formal responsibility and authority for making their own decisions.
Always discuss with your team leader what you want, and try to give direct instructions. Instead, ensure that both of you discuss about the job necessities and let the team leader decide how to organize and lead the team.
You do not have to decide how the team approaches its work. That should be the responsibility of the team leader. Of course, a manager has the authority to make all decisions at any time but let the team leader decide how the team works.
When you let your team leader make decisions, it does not take your day to day responsibility of managing the entire team. It is still your team, but you need to step back a bit from the frontline.
The aim is not to cause some obstruction that can prevent your team leader from making decisions.
3. Don’t Micromanage Your Team Leader
A micromanager can create a lot of bad feelings and problems for a team leader. And micromanaging behavior shows a lack of trust in your team leader’s ability to lead the team.
There is no denying that as a manager, you have a real vested interest in the success of the team. So, there can be several reasons why you micromanage.
Maybe the work that your team leader does could be of critical importance. It could be that your team leader is unable to meet deadlines, and that leaves you in a very insecure position. You may be a manager who cares so much that you want to get things right all the time.
But all those do not explain what is driving your micromanaging behavior. What you need to do if you are going to micromanage is explaining to your team leader the reason behind it.
To be honest, some managers want to be in total control of the team and cannot stop micromanaging their employees. If you micromanage a competent team leader and a good performer, the person will either hate the job or leave.
4. Use Diplomacy to Manage your Team Leader
Being direct is a great way to get things done. However, being blunt is not always the right way to build a good relationship with your team leader.
Use diplomacy whenever you are talking with your team leader. It is essential to have a degree of understanding of the way your team leader operates and how the persons think.
Always try and find out what is going on in the minds of your team leader. A lot of managers do not worry much about their employees’ feelings.
It is because they think that people come to the workplace to do the job, so that is all they care about. But good managers are sensitive about the feelings of their employees.
It is useful to be a bit sensitive, for instance, if you and your team leader find yourselves in a tense situation. Yes, by being direct can go straight to the point and get things done quickly.
And that is very good. But in a sensitive situation where you need your team leader to cooperate, it can become a little challenging.
So, you need to be flexible in your behavior, so that you can build a far more effective long-term relationship with your team leader and the team.
5. Help Your Team Leader Whenever is Facing Challenges
As a manager, you can intervene if the team leader is facing challenges or when there is any other need to do so. You can step in to help in those situations and get the team to do the job.
But your involvement must be for supporting your team leader to deal with the challenges. However, you should provide support and guidance but do not micromanage your team leader.
Alternatively, you can get involved but know when to step back and allow your team leader to take control of the situation and lead the team.
Move yourself away as soon as possible, even when there is a possibility of making mistakes. Your team leader will learn from those mistakes and continue to develop.
6. Don’t Nitpick at Everything your Team Leader Does
There is nothing wrong with demanding the best from your team leader. But do not pick on every little thing and lose your sense of consideration and understanding.
When you nitpick on everything your team leader does, it is not going to help the person’s confidence and creativeness just because you are a perfectionist.
7. Give your Team Leader Regular Feedback
Be selfless, something which is extremely difficult for many managers to do. You must understand what drives your team leader and help the person grow on an ongoing basis.
Regularly giving feedback and having coaching conversations is essential. Also, listen to your team leader’s frustrations and make suggestions about how to move past them.
How do you Manage a Team Leader? Please let us know in the comment box below