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Use of authority and assertiveness

this refers to the ability to create a proper challenge and response atmosphere, by balancing assertiveness and team member participation and being prepared to take decisive action if required by the situation. the leader must also know when to apply his or her authority to achieve safe task completion.

Providing and maintaining standards

this relates to compliance with essential standards, e.g. standard operating procedures (Sops and others) for task completion, as well as supervision and intervention that may be required due to deviations from standards by other team members.

Planning and prioritising

This element describes how leaders apply appropriate methods of planning and prioritising for organised task management and delegation to achieve the best performance. this also involves co-ordination by communicating plans and intentions.

Managing workload and resources

Leaders must manage not only their own workload and resources but also that of the team. this involves understanding the basic contributors to workload and developing the skills of organising task-sharing to avoid workload peaks and dips. Causes of high workload include unrealistic deadlines and under-resources.

there are a number of different accounts of the skills required by leaders and these can differ depending on whether they are derived from research with military, industry or elsewhere. Several versions are presented below. For instance, Zaccaro et al. (2001) suggest that leadership aspects that affect team performance include:

  • • active participation by the team leader and other team members
  • • defining team directions and organising the team to maximise progress along such directions
  • • gaining respect from the team members
  • • knowledgeable about their own speciality areas and willing to respect other team members who are experts in their own speciality areas
  • • encouraging open communications, including discussion of the team goals and performance expectations, which promotes commitment to the team and consensus within the team.

Flin’s (1996) study of incident commanders showed that the most effective leaders:

  • 1. diagnose the situation (the task/problem, the mood, the competence and motivation of the team),
  • 2. have a range of styles available (e.g. delegative, consultative, coaching, facilitating, directive), and
  • 3. match his or her style to the situation.

From studies of military teams, Salas and Cannon-Bowers (1997) found that the following skills were essential: [1] [2] [3] [4]

  • 5. Ask for input from other team members and openly discuss potential problems.
  • 6. Maintain coherence within the team by managing situation awareness.
  • 7. provide feedback to the other team members, the degree of successful feedback depending on the leader’s style.
  • 8. Adjust their role to match team progress.
  • 9. Define and encourage team goals and performance to promote commitment and consensus.

Leaders carry a great deal of responsibility for ensuring that their team achieves its goals and one aspect of this is to solve complex problems. Salas et al. (2004) proposed four dimensions of a team leader’s behaviours for problem-solving (see Table 6.2).

Table 6.2 Team leader problem-solving behaviours (Salas et al., 2004)



Information search and structuring

Acquiring information

Organising and evaluating information

Feedback and control

Information use in problem-solving

Identifying needs and requirements Planning and co-ordinating Communicating information

Managing personnel resources

obtaining and allocating personnel resources Developing personnel resources Motivating personnel resources Utilising and monitoring personnel resources

Managing material resources

obtaining and allocating material resources Maintaining material resources utilising and monitoring material resources

These behaviours show what needs to be done to encourage adaptive team performance, and it was suggested that this can be applied in any team context.

In summary, skilled leadership may be required to handle a range of situations and depends on a number of different skills and competencies discussed elsewhere in this book, such as decision-making, communication, teamwork and situation awareness. Situational demands affect how a leader can perform or is viewed. Different tasks may require different leader characteristics and/or behaviours. Thus the context or organisational factors can support or frustrate a leader’s behaviours and actions. The next section describes various leadership theories that have attempted to explain leadership effectiveness.

  • [1] Define the social structure, encourage open communications and exhibit selfdisclosure to develop team cohesion.
  • [2] use effective communications and inform the other team members aboutmatters affecting team performance.
  • [3] Plan, structure and co-ordinate the team.
  • [4] Maintain the team focus on their task.
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