5 reasons why team leadership is better than solo leadership


With Presidents Day earlier this week, we think this a great time to give a quick look at solo leadership and team leadership.

The President of the United States typically is what we would call a “solo leader” because that’s how the job is designed.

But for the rest of us who are thrust into leadership positions, we tend to have a choice on the type of leader we will be: Will we be a solo leader or will we take a team approach to our leadership style?

Because of our extensive use of Belbin which emphasizes team roles, we think a team leader approach is better, and here are five reasons why:

A solo leader only has his or her own point of view to rely on. While some leaders have the type of experiences that allow them to do well with just their own point of view, that’s not the case for most of us. A team leader, however, attempts to use the experiences and points of view of everyone on the team, and takes all of that into consideration when making decisions. This approach is better for a leader because the collective knowledge of his or her team will produce a better outcome than the limitation of making a decision through just one person’s point of view.

A solo leader will keep the power of making a decision to herself or himself. A team leader figures out who the best person is to handle a particular situation, and lets him or her take the lead in that respect.  This approach allows a team leader to accentuate the strengths of individual team members for the benefit of the team and organization.

Solo leadership inevitably leads to conformity in thought, attitude and action. Deviation by team members may end up being punished, either directly or in subtle ways, leading to a silencing of new ideas.  Team leadership encourages diversity in thought, attitude and action. Deviation is encouraged in order to bring in new ways of thinking, and the ideas and solutions that come from such discussions are encouraged and considered.  A team leader approach fosters creativity and strives to expand the teams’ collective knowledge.

Solo leaders collect followers and people who look to them for guidance, potentially resulting in an atmosphere of “fear of falling out of favor.” Team leaders seek to empower the talent that exists around them. This leads to a feeling of freedom to express ideas. We find people prefer freedom over fear.

A solo leader decides his or her objectives and then directs subordinates accordingly. A team leader takes input from others to create objectives that everyone feels a part of.  The team leader approach allows people to feel valued for their input and to support what they help create.

If you are in a leadership position, knowing your own strengths and weaknesses, as well as the strengths and weaknesses of those around you allows you to successfully pursue using the team leader approach. When you and your colleagues have a good understanding of this information, you will be able to form strong, productive teams where everyone brings and contributions their best.

Belbin Team Roles is the perfect tool for empowering yourself and your colleagues.  As one of the foremost experts of Belbin Team Roles in North America, Smartt Strategies is happy to help you learn how to bring the Team Leader approach to your teams and organization.