Strategies of Effective New Product Team Leaders

I found this study to be pretty monotonous.  Some of the ideologies contained within were brilliant; however to constant overuse of phrases like “effective team leaders …” nearly bored me to tears.  That’s the bad news.  The good news is there were some really great nuggets contained within the study for any aspiring business leader.  The study was focused on leaders for new product cross-functional development teams, but I think many of the skills they listed are applicable to any good manager.

One of the best ideologies was the “facilitators, not heroes” view.  The manager interviewed here saw himself more as a coach than as a boss.  He felt his job was not to micro-manage every little detail, but to point people in the right direction and facilitate communication.  He was also big on team member empowerment.  He gave his people the latitude to make decisions and encouraged them to do so.  This is in stark contrast with some of the more “hands on” management styles we’ve encountered.

Another excellent point the study made was that information should be shared between team members.  I liken it to a football team.  A football coach doesn’t give the game plan only to the quarterback and expect the rest of the team to figure it out as they go.  They tell the whole team which enables them to work toward a common goal.  The study made a point that good leaders loosened restrictions over information and resources, enabling team members to be creative in developing their own protocols, priorities, and processes based on the overall team goal.

The final point on which I’d like to comment is that which the article identified as “ensure commitment”.  The principle here is to make sure that all team members have skin in the game.  Everyone contributes to the inputs and takes a share in the responsibilities for the outcome.  This includes involving everyone on the team in all facets of planning, developing, and implementing a new product.  By doing this, team members develop a sense of ownership and pride in the development of the product.  This ensures a higher quality product and can lead to lower costs as people make every effort to be efficient and accurate in their duties as they relate to the new product. 

Overall the study made some very good points, but I can’t help but feel it was much longer than necessary as phrases and ideas we unnecessarily repeated.  However; it would be great if every manager out there took some of these ideas to heart.

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