GuidesEmployee experienceWhat is team leadership, and why is it important?

What is team leadership, and why is it important?

Last updated

6 March 2024


Dovetail Editorial Team

Reviewed by

Warren Jonas ACC

Leadership is one of the most important qualities any manager can have. Regardless of your industry, being an effective leader can help you climb the corporate ladder, experience greater success, highlight those who have brought value to your journey, and build strong interpersonal relationships.

Becoming a strong team leader isn't something that happens by chance. It also doesn't happen overnight.

If you want to be an effective team leader, you must dedicate time, effort, and resources. You should also develop specific skills to help you and those around you experience greater productivity and meet important goals. From inspiring fellow employees to completing high-powered projects, team leadership can help you at every stage of your career.

What is team leadership?

Team leadership is the ability to successfully guide and manage a team of employees or contract workers. Team leaders are people who can motivate others and inspire them to perform at the highest level. Team leadership doesn't matter only to employees in your immediate orbit. It can affect everyone within your organization.

As you embody a commitment to excellence, you’ll become a role model for managers, team leads, and staff members who notice your ability to achieve objectives with proficiency and adeptness.

Why is team leadership important?

The landscape of business is changing quickly. The COVID-19 pandemic, the advent of increased remote work opportunities, and the introduction of new and exciting technologies have made it harder than ever for companies to meet their goals.

According to McKinsey, these changes have made it even more important for businesses to invest in quality leadership. Managers and leads who can motivate employees and keep them satisfied at work will be more likely to see significant improvements in the organization. Investing in team leadership should be a priority for every CEO and manager.

What's the difference between a team leader and a team manager?

The job titles of team leader and team manager may sound similar, but their functions are quite different.

A team leader is responsible for encouraging and motivating members of their team. They typically report to a manager and aren't hyper-focused on specific deliverables.

A team manager often takes on the responsibilities of a project manager, keeping track of deliverables and following up with individual team members to ensure their tasks are being completed to satisfaction.

Both roles are important and can have far-reaching consequences within the organization.

What makes a good team leader?

Becoming a great team leader takes intentional work and development. While there are specific skills that every good team leader should have, the role also requires you to have a deep understanding of yourself.

Discover your unique communication style and invest in personal development to refine those skills that might need work, as well as taking stock of the required skills you've already mastered. Learn how to leverage your skills to motivate your team and meet your goals.

A good team leader should not micromanage or thrive on drama and in-office politics. They should provide regular encouragement and support to members of their team, helping them stay on track with their tasks and offering clarity when necessary.

If you don't know the answer to a team member's question, find out where to get the information. By becoming a trusted resource and mentor, you'll set yourself up for success as a team leader.

Five top team leader skills

A good team leader has numerous qualities. Incorporate your unique skills and abilities into your role, embracing those qualities that helped you achieve success in the past.

The following five skills are particularly important for any team leader to develop.

Communication skills

One of the most important qualities any business professional should have is effective communication. You'll need solid written and verbal communication skills to interact with your team and the rest of the business.

A key element of effective communication is active listening. This will help you better understand your team members, get to know them better, and prove you truly care about the people you work with.

Ability to resolve conflict

Conflict is not inevitable, but it does happen. People on the same team don't always get along. Wires can get crossed, and communication styles don't always align.

A good team leader should be able to diffuse conflict and help get everyone back on track. Moving forward and resolving differences without harsh words or hurt feelings will keep everyone focused and ensure that work is a comfortable, motivating place.

What’s more, by eliminating the costly distractions of internal politics, leaders can focus on positivity and reduce hidden costs associated with disputes in the workplace.

Emotional intelligence

Emotional intelligence is the ability to understand and manage your emotions as well as those of others. People with strong emotional intelligence tend to be more pleasant in social situations and have better self-regulation than those who can't manage their emotions well.

Team leaders who have emotional intelligence are usually more effective communicators. They can also better engage and manage their team members, creating an improved overall employee experience.

Problem-solving abilities

In every industry, in every department, and indeed, every project, things go wrong at times. Team leaders who react quickly when a problem occurs are an asset to the organization.

When solving problems, look at not only the various solutions but how each one will affect your team.

Emotional intelligence can also help your problem-solving skills. Regulating your frustration in a difficult situation will set an example for your team.

Team building

Team building is at the core of every successful team leader's skill set. As a leader, you're responsible for not only moving projects and goals forward but also ensuring everyone feels valued and needed.

Dedicate time to team building, so your team members can get to know each other and better appreciate how everyone's skills contribute to the company's greater good.

How to improve your skills as a new team leader

Whether you're planning on applying for a leadership position or have just become a team leader, these tips will help you improve your skills and become a stronger leader.

Practice continuing development

Self-development is a way for you to better understand yourself and how you work. Self-development work, such as courses and online modules, can help you practice the skills that need work and hone the ones you've already mastered.

Actively seek feedback

By seeking feedback from multiple sources, you'll understand how you impact others, including what you do well and what you could improve. Be invested in what your team members think and feel. Seek feedback regularly, so your team members know you care about the work you're doing.

Step outside your comfort zone

Taking risks is how breakthroughs are made, on a professional and personal level. When you push yourself to take risks as a team leader, you'll open yourself up to new ideas and new ways of thinking.

Don't be afraid to take chances and accept that, even if you fail, you'll have learned something valuable.

In summary

Being a good team leader takes time, but you can achieve it with hard work and dedication. If you're willing to put in the work, you will almost certainly reap the rewards.


How big should a leadership team be?

Establishing a strong leadership team is important for every business that wants to grow and meet goals. However, the size of that leadership team can vary wildly, depending on the size and structure of your organization. There are advantages to both small and large leadership teams.

Smaller leadership teams of three to five people can enhance alignment and efficiency, making it easier to build relationships. A larger leadership team could mean more projects are underway at any given time, enhancing revenue potential. Try to keep your leadership team between three and seven people, depending on the size of your business.

What are the seven functions of leadership?

There are many ways to be a great leader and many different types of leadership. However, there are seven generally agreed-upon functions of leadership:

  • Inspiring others

  • Planning and organizing

  • Assigning and delegating

  • Coaching and mentoring

  • Setting and meeting goals

  • Building and managing teams

  • Leading change

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