When you look at a successful business what is the first thing you tend to notice – is it the leader or the team? Of course, it has to be the leader who must have worked hard to grow the business. But is it possible to do so single-handedly? Actually not. The leader must also have a reliable team to be able to realise his dreams. So then are great leaders made by great teams or are strong teams the result of a great leader? Here is my take-

From A Leader’s Perspective

The primary role of a leader is to drive the entire team towards one single goal. This goal translates the daily running of a business. To further expand this, for a business to run, there are several aspects which need attention. For instance, the leader has to create a presence in products and services, finances, markets, administration, operations etc. Obviously, it is impossible to look into all these things by yourself. Hence, only when the leader has a team which can co-manage certain responsibilities will it be possible to completely grow. Great leaders create great organisations – these leaders are able to unleash the best from the team and align their strengths towards achieving the set objectives.

As a leader, it is expected that the person will be strongly motivated and will extend that same feeling to the employees. If the business is blessed to have an equally inspired team, the leader finds is very easy to explain the significance of the company goals. What a leader can achieve largely depends on the team spirit as well. A leader should be able to influence others and build trust among the team members. It is the leader’s responsibility to define the team’s purpose and align those with the organisation’s plans so that everyone works cohesively towards the strategic goals.

As leadership specialist Tricia Naddaff, president of Management Research Group says, “When teams interact, they create a new, stronger entity”. I believe companies such as motor giant Ford and even Google, for that matter, are excellent examples of what can be achieved if the leader has a fine team to work with.

From A Team’s Perspective

The primary role of a team is to put in efforts to successfully achieve the set targets – short-term as well as long-term. Since they would have someone to guide them regarding the dos and don’ts, I feel a team has to be proactive and lend all possible support. They have to be committed towards their assigned tasks, because, by doing so, will eventually attain their own personal growth – if the company progresses, so will their personal equity. It also would be a good learning experience to better your own capabilities. Things like problem-solving ability, decision making, training for result-oriented performance are just some of the positives a leader is actually teaching the team. The more a team can learn from its leader, the more benefits it can enjoy. At the same time, it is important to remember for team members to help each other out and not just stand by the leader for collective growth.

There are several examples of companies which have done well thanks to a competent leadership. J. R. D. Tata, Dhirubhai Ambani, are some such prominent leaders who not only achieved growth of their respective businesses but also managed to help their employees rise. There is also Mark Zuckerberg who provided able leadership. He trusted even the newly hired staff members and made them a key part of the company’s plans.

In an ideal scenario, leaders should develop their teams to take ownership and eventually be able to let them independently lead a task or a project. Without a team, there is no leadership to prove. Yet, teamwork occurs when there’s someone to cohesively bring all the members together. Simply because having one better than the other does not help in achieving set goals. As research scholar Dr. J. Richard Hackman has identified, “the presence of five conditions – real team, compelling direction, enabling structure, supportive context, and competent coaching” are vital for a team’s effectiveness, or in short, a company’s success. In my experience, it is a cyclic process. While leaders take up new challenges and initiatives, it is the team which executes those. When the team takes up challenges and delivers on those, the leader starts exploring newer challenges.

I can relate this with the leadership model described in Indian mythology – Brahma (creation or innovation), Vishnu (execution, implementation life cycle), Mahesh (destruction or upgrade/change). An effective leader’s role is to be the Brahma and Mahesh and to align the team of Vishnus who can effectively collaborate with the Brahma.

Hence, I feel that when we discuss whether a leader achieves success because of a team or if a team is defined by its leader, it is worthy to note that for a business to click and expand, it needs a combination of both – a great leader as well as a great team complement each other. It is all about empowering each other for like-minded goals.