Agreeing responsibilities

The way you organize your team influences performance - and speaks volumes about your integrity as a leader.

Team members need clear roles and responsibilities. People need to know how the team’s big vision translates into practical work-streams with objectives and timelines. They need to know who is accountable to whom for what, where decisions will be made and how all the different pieces of work dovetail together and get coordinated.

That doesn't mean the team leader has to make every decision and allocate every job. Consultation and delegation are an essential part of effective teamwork. But it does mean that the team leader has to oversee how and where these decisions get made, and take ultimate responsibility for them.

Research generally shows that people do best when they have maximum individual autonomy and decision-making responsibility, as long as there are reliable processes for support and co-ordinating the different parts. It’s essential to put the right people in the right places, playing to individual strengths, giving people fulfilling roles and assigning tasks effectively. In the leadership arena, combining "autonomy" and "alignment" is the winning formula.

These structural decisions - who does what, when to delegate, and so on - are a visible exercise of the power and responsibility that is invested in your role as team leader. They are a significant opportunity for you to be a role model of fairness and integrity. Decency and consistency are ways in which people judge their organization and its managers, and influence the commitment they are prepared to give. People's trust in you and the organization will hinge on how well you play this aspect of The Guardian's role.