What is a Team Leader?
As the name suggests, a team leader leads an assigned team of workers. This usually involves overseeing and guiding the day-to-day functions and tasks of the team.
Within this role, team leaders help their team complete work through expert support, guidance, and direction, acting as the main communicator, facilitator, and productivity monitor. It is the responsibility of the team leader to ensure their team members are motivatived and aware of roles, as well as timelines and expectations. It is also the responsibility of the team leader to source necessary resources and information for their team to complete goals.
HR related activities that may be associated with managerial type roles are usually not included in a team leader’s remit. Disciplinaries or performance reviews, as examples, may be contributed to by team leaders, but performed by senior management. This reinforces the team leader role as the day-to-day manager of staff and tasks, with clear differentiation from high-up management.
Team Leader vs Manager
The main difference between team leaders and managers is the focus of the roles. Whereas managers are dealing with the bigger picture of an organisation as a whole, team leaders focus on individual projects, teams, and aspects within an organisation or business. In a sense, team leaders help managers to do their role, to progress and better manage the entire organisation by ensuring employees are on track and projects are delivered on time.
Engineers looking to progress their career are likely to first attain a team leader role and then progress to management. The skills required and experience gained from being a team leader will help them transition to a management role well.