What qualities do you need to be a good leader? A study suggests that the role of leader works best if it is taken on by an individual with strong communication skills. It also shows that if teams choose their leader themselves, they would be more effective.
A German-American research team sought to determine what qualities make a good team leader. Because this position is quite ambiguous. The team leader cannot behave like a superior and delegate the tasks incumbent on him to his teammates. He remains a collaborator like any other, even if he is responsible for the success of a project and the performance of his team.
This is why it is important to choose the person who will occupy this position carefully. Many companies appoint team leaders as part of a job advancement or internal promotion. But the authors of this article, published in the journal Frontiers in Psychology, suggest that this approach is not necessarily the most relevant. They claim that the most effective work teams are those that have chosen their leader.
The academics reached this conclusion by conducting an experiment with 123 volunteers. The latter were randomly divided into 41 groups of three people. They were tasked with working with their teammates to complete a complex task. All teams benefited from a 15-minute training session, during which each of the three members was able to interact one-on-one with their two other sidekicks. The goal ? Allow everyone to become familiar with the skills and expertise of others.
Communicate to be better heard
Following this, the participants of the study had to answer a questionnaire aimed at determining what role each teammate would occupy in the communication chain. In particular, they had to determine who will be the central link, that is to say the person who will ensure that information circulates well within the same working group. Indeed, the researchers ensured that teammates could only communicate with each other through their leader, in order to guarantee their interdependence.
Once the questionnaires were completed, the academics announced to all groups who was going to be their central link. Some found that their team leader was the one they chose, while others found that their preference was not taken into account. But, in both cases, the researchers explained to them that this decision had been taken randomly. This subterfuge was intended to ensure that the teams who had “chosen” their leader did not feel advantaged.
This experimental protocol made it possible to highlight that the volunteers who communicated the most during the test phase had a greater chance of being chosen as team leader. This is explained by the fact that their communication skills were perceived as a guarantee of expertise. Furthermore, the groups that were most effective in carrying out their task were those that had “chosen” their leader.
Which proves to what extent effective management and organization are essential elements in the success of a project. Teamwork is more likely to succeed if it is supervised by a leader who listens to his teammates. It is not a question of playing the little boss but rather of ensuring that knowledge is shared. Good managers are those who know how to listen to be better heard.