Why Teams Need Great Leaders

Why Teams Need Great Leaders

In reality, there is only a team with a leader – to be a team requires a common goal and active participation to attain it. While it’s true that player-led teams outperform leader-led teams, someone has to have a vision for a brighter future tomorrow than exists today. Typically, that vision and belief come from a leader.

However, many groups of people work together, void of leadership. They might need a leader or a manager, a CEO, or a Director at the top of their hierarchical chart who fails to lead in mindset or behavior. 

Regardless, there is a distinct difference between leaderless teams and teams with leaders.  

Leaderless Team vs. Leader-Led Teams

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There is a tremendous difference between a leaderless team and leader-led teams, but it does beg the question, does a team with a leader or many leaders guarantee the achievement of goals? Unfortunately, it doesn’t. 

However, it reminds me of one of my favorite leadership quotes from author Jon Gordon: “Being positive won’t guarantee you’ll succeed. But being negative will guarantee you won’t.”  Said differently;

Having leadership on a team won’t guarantee success. But a team void of leadership will guarantee you won’t.

Studies have shown that teams require leadership. But Why? What actually happens over time when a team is void of leadership?

What Realy Happens to Leaderless Teams

1. Confusion

The best leaders create clarity, not confusion. However, from our research, we found the majority of teams find themselves in a constant state of uncertainty. 

The best leaders create clarity, not confusion. 

Confusion can occur for many reasons, some in a leader’s control (lack of communication, no clear vision or goals, no strategy or plan) and others out of their control (rapid technological advancements & market conditions.) 

2. Indecision

In the Accelerate Leadership Program, I define a leader as; someone whose actions inspire, empower and serve in order to elevate others. Let’s hone in on the word empower. What it means is to help others make decisions. As my friend L. David Marquet said, “Great leaders empower their people to make decisions where the information is.” 

Great leaders empower their people to make decisions where the information is. 

3. Fragmentation

Nothing will slow a team down and cause issues in a culture more than cliques and siloes. When one small group pits itself against another small group or an individual, it causes a team to slow down, and the “blame game” starts.  

When there is a problem to solve, team members blame someone else rather than look in the mirror at themselves. 

4. Dysfunction

In his book The Five Dysfunctions of Team, Patrick Lencioni laid out the clear path of what makes the team dysfunctional:

  1. An absence of trust
  2. A fear of conflict
  3. A lack fo commitment
  4. An avoidance of accountability
  5. An inattention to results

There is an old saying that “Every family is dysfunctional.” While there might be some truth to that because families are made up of flawed human beings, the best leaders are constantly rooting out dysfunction on their team and bringing it to the surface so it can be addressed instead of ignored.  

The best leaders are constantly rooting out dysfunction on their team and bringing it to the surface so it can be addressed instead of ignored.  


People and teams will only meet their potential with leadership. This doesn’t mean there is just one leader at the very top. What’s required is for there to be leaders at every level of an organization or team.  

To be successful in today’s landscape requires leaders at every level of an organization.

Now more than ever requires you to choose leadership. 

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About the Author John Eades is the CEO of LearnLoft, a leadership development company helping executives and managers to lead their best. He was named one of LinkedIn’s Top Voices in Management & Workplace. John is also the author of Building the Best: 8 Proven Leadership Principles to Elevate Others to Success. You can follow him on Instagram @johngeades