Are You Getting Stale As a Leader?

Often in team-based organizations, the question about how long a team leader should remain in that position surfaces. There are different schools of thought on this, anywhere from a defined time frame to forever, but I think you should be a bit more thoughtful about it. Remember we’re talking about people here, not just some widget on an assembly line. Changes in leadership can ultimately impact team productivity.

Here’s the approach I like to see organization’s take and it hinges on one thing. Effectiveness. As long as the person is being effective you should not place any hard and fast rules or even identify best practices for how long a team leader should remain in the role. As soon as you give it a number, people are going to start using that as a measuring stick and that’s the wrong direction to go.

What you want to do to determine the right time for a team leader to move on is ask questions. Here are a few to start with.

  • Is the team leader guiding the team where it needs to go?
  • Does the team leader aspire to something different?
  • Would the team leader, the team and the company get a better “win” if the team leader were leading a different team?
  • Has the team transitioned from one stage to another (e.g., idea stage to implementation) where the team leader is less suited to guiding the team?
  • Are the strengths of the team leader the right ones to continue leading the team?

This should get you started. You may want to develop more like the ones above to help drive the decision making for the best time to move a team leader.

What do you think? Please leave a comment.


Denise O'Berry

Denise O’Berry — aka the Team Doc — has been working with teams and team leadership in the public, non profit and private sectors for over twenty years. She gets a lot of joy from working with teams and their leadership to help them improve and work through team issues. Not only does her advice come from the heart, it comes from years of experience working as a team member, team leader, manager and owner of her own company. She has truly walked in your shoes and offers help so you can be a better team leader. You can find more advice from Denise at her website Ask Team Doc and don't forget to follow her on Twitter @deniseoberry.

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