Identify the position and role of a team leader in the public services including their responsibilities, qualities and skills. Leadership is a trait that is extremely valuable in any public service and none more-so than in the Army. Being a team leader in the Army demands a very versatile individual for the job who can essentially, among other things, effectively influence the actions of others. A team leader in the Army whether they are a commissioned (CO) or a non-commissioned officer (NCO), must both possess certain qualities and skills many of which are shared in other sectors of the public services.
It can be argued that the most important elements of a good leader are their personal qualities. Fundamentally, one’s qualities describe who a person is inside, and at the core of Army leaders are Army values. The leader is not merely wielding power, but appealing to the values of the follower. In this sense, values mean, “A principle, standard, or quality regarded as worthwhile or desirable. “1 The British Army has promoted seven values in particular extensively, those values are: ‘loyalty, duty, respect, selflessness, honour, integrity and courage.
These qualities, when related to a team leader in the Army, can be recognised in certain areas of their duties. A team leader is responsible not only for themselves but to the welfare of the soldiers under their command. They provide the guidance, assistance and supervision necessary for soldiers to excel and are ultimately responsible for the progression of their soldiers and their careers. “A team leader who can take care of his soldiers earns the confidence of both his men and his supervisors. “3 In order to attain the confidence and command the respect of their soldiers they must look to be an example for their soldiers.
When in combat the team leader must be the one a soldier looks to for an example of what to do and the one person they see to react first. The leader must exercise certain skills in demanding situations many of which are mental attributes. They are expected to hold a significant amount of intellectual ingenuity and use initiative and quick thinking to overcome certain obstacles under immense pressure with poise and grace. They must be able to problem solve and provide a variety of solutions with multiple outcomes. Again, through these skills they are helping their subordinates develop and are gaining their trust and confidence.
“Intellectual stimulation helps followers to question assumptions and to generate more creative solutions to problems. “4 As well as the desire and willingness to lead, individuals who assume leadership roles must possess certain skills away from the field. A large part of this falls under their ability to organise. They are expected to undertake plenty of paperwork including preparing reports and maintaining records of their activities be they accomplishments or failures. “The team leader not only sets the example, but he is also the grease on the axle that keeps the administrative wheels of the platoon rolling smoothly.
“5 There are times when they may be expected to deal with their subordinates wages or accommodation as well as recording any problems that their soldiers have whether they are complaints, (for which there are certain procedures) or personal problems. The team leader is the first person a soldier goes to for guidance therefore they must possess a significant amount of knowledge in order to be able to answer their queries. They must be able to meet deadlines and plan for certain objectives. For this they must possess the skills to research, learn and apply a wide range of methods to identify, assess and analyse a situation.
During their decision making process it essential for the team leader to be able to communicate effectively with their soldiers and to clearly state their objectives. They must possess the ability to determine the intentions of the mission and to convey that to their soldiers in a way that makes certain that everyone is on the same page. This in turn leaves less room for mistakes. “In the chaos of battle, it is essential to decentralize decision authority to the lowest practical level. “6 This statement underlines the need for strong initiative skills within the role of the NCO.
It is always a possibility that a team leader in the Army, especially in combat situations, becomes the NCO. Such team leaders must possess the skills to be ready to step into command positions and have the personal confidence and knowledge to lead in the absence of direction. As well as mental attributes the Army team leader must also possess physical attributes also. Operations in the field not only result in mental stress, requiring the leader to have considerable mental skills in the form of thinking clearly, but also physical weariness and exhaustion.
To some extent these go hand-in-hand as “a high-level of physical fitness prevents decision-making ability from being clouded in times of stress of exertion. “7 Primarily the team leader, regardless of which public sector they are in, must possess both a high level of personal qualities and certain skills applicable to that position in order to complete their respective duties successfully.
Bass, B. M. (1998), ‘Transformational leadership: Individual, military and educational impact’, Erlbaum, New Jersey. http://findarticles.com
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