Should Leaders Have Team Building Skills?

Leader
A lot is expected of our leaders. Dictionary.com defines a “leader” as a person or thing that leads.” That may seem obvious, however, does that mean the leader must “lead” teambuilding sessions? Myriads of books, articles, videos and white papers have been written for generations by researchers and others who have opinions about the specific qualities of an effective leader. How often is it mentioned that “team building” should be one of those must-have skills?

I've done my own unscientific research and have asked a few smart people whose opinions I admire if they believe leaders should be good team builders. All of them immediately responded “yes” and all of them retracted their answer after giving the question more thought.

Following are some of the thoughts my smart people put forward:

1. Upon further thought, my smart people decided that leaders should be able to lead a team to battle, more sales, better morale, freedom, good deeds etc. but to be considered a high-qualified leader, one does not have to have team building skills.

2. An effective leader must be competent at selecting team members, whether it's a team of managers, board of directors, sports players or political administrators yet that too is not a critical skill. As Doris Kearns Goodwin artfully describes in her book Team of Rivals, Lincoln was a leader with remarkable skills at team building. His team included political opponents along with men who joined his team(s) with an oversized amount of resentment. Is the selecting of team members a required skill? My friends say, “no.” Nice to have but not essential.

3. President Abraham Lincoln is an excellent example of a leader having team building skills. Yet is it a necessary qualification? My own experts say, “not necessarily” and they all agree that the skill set of team building is not a requirement of anyone to be considered an effective leader yet it is a desirable complement to other characteristics that are direct requirements of leadership.

4. To be exemplary, leaders must have the necessary Vision. If they can see down the road and understand clearly where the “team” must arrive, they can relinquish the team building skills to others. Having the vision is an essential skillset every leader must have. All of my smart people narrowed down the many skills leaders must have to this one absolutely essential trait. No vision, no leader.

Still with me?

5. People who do team building do not have to be leaders. What? Yes, my smart people agree that people who are trained in facilitating team building activities to achieve a common goal must have specific skill sets but it doesn't necessarily make them effective leaders unless they are also the ones who provide the Vision. I see.

If you are a leader, my smart people indicate that you must have the Vision. It's the one quality that you must possess that is non-negotiable. You must know where you are leading your team and how to get them there. You can elect to let others rally the troops and head them toward your goal yet, if you are an effective leader, you are the one who determines the destination.

Interesting discussion we had.

Darcie Davis, The Game Gal, is founder of HUDDLE Sessions for Women, which are pop-up advisory boards for women who have ideas begging for feedback. Darcie develops ice breakers and games which are distributed through www.GamesandTeambuilding.com.
Graphic image provided by: lumaxart ([1]) [CC-BY-SA-2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons

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