A team leader is someone who provides guidance, instruction, direction and leadership to a group of other individuals (the team) for the purpose of achieving a key result or group of aligned results. The team lead reports to a project manager (overseeing several teams). The team leader monitors the quantitative and qualitative result that is to be achieved. The leader often works within the team, as a member, carrying out the same roles but with the additional 'leader' responsibilities - as opposed to higher level management who often have a separate job role altogether.
Scouller (2011) defined the purpose of a leader (including a team leader) as follows: "The purpose of a leader is to make sure there is leadership … to ensure that all four dimensions of leadership are [being addressed].” The four dimensions being: (1) a shared, motivating team purpose or vision or goal (2) action, progress and results (3) collective unity or team spirit (4) attention to individuals.
The team membership may not directly report or answer to the team leader, (who is very often a senior member of the organization but may or may not be a manager) but would be expected to provide support to the team leader and other team members in achieving the team's goals.
A good team leader listens constructively to the membership and to the customer(s) of the results that the team is charged with delivering.
The responsibilities of a team leader vary greatly between organizations, but usually includes some responsibility for team building and ensuring teamwork. The term is used to emphasize the cooperative nature of a team, in contrast to a typical command structure, where the head of a team would be its "commander".
- A guide for Team Leaders, 'The Essential team Leader Playbook'
- Scouller, J. (2011). The Three Levels of Leadership: How to Develop Your Leadership Presence, Knowhow and Skill. Cirencester: Management Books 2000., ISBN 9781852526818