Leading a team is probably the truest test of leadership. Teams are made up of a variety of different personalities. The best leaders know how to work with all of them, while good leaders can work with most and bad leaders simply try to command the attention they’re not getting any other way. If you’re interviewing for a job that specifies the need for leadership qualities, you’ll likely be asked to prove that you can handle the situations that inevitably come up when leading a team.
Behavioral Interview Question: What have been the greatest obstacles you have faced when managing a work team? What steps did you take to overcome these obstacles?
There are countless answers to this question. Rather than discuss all of the potential answers, let’s remember some of the most important rules about answering questions about coworkers and subordinates:
- Don’t complain about any of them.
- Make sure the story is relatable.
- Offer real solutions with some degree of planning or logic.
The good news is that you don’t necessarily have to discuss a real situation you’ve faced. You can talk about common, recurring obstacles for any leadership role. This is a good approach when no specific answer comes to mind. But if possible, try to see if you have a specific answer available, especially if that answer is about something universal and non-judgmental, including:
- An employee that got sick or left the team.
- Trouble getting high level team members together.
- Other priorities or customer related setbacks.
“In my experience, one of the greatest challenges with leading a team of any size is making sure they are not upset if their ideas or opinions aren’t used. On more than one occasion there were differing ideas within my team’s settings. This brought about two issues. First, it meant that the team did not always get along, and second, it meant that someone was not going to have their idea explored and therefore had to be okay working on whatever decision we made.
In any group, one of the ways I manage this situation is to talk to every employee individually before bringing them together as a group. This lets me show them that I do listen to their opinions, and also helps establish myself as a decision maker if it comes to that. Then when we have our first team meeting, I bring up all of their good points for discussion and open it to the floor. All of their ideas are often valid, so this helps ensure that their idea is being truly heard. This combination usually helps the team recognize that if an option isn’t chosen, it is not personal, and that their ideas were valuable.”
As always, clearly demonstrating that as the leader you have a clear plan, That’s what you’re able to do in these types of settings – you’re able to show that you have a plan, and that you’re capable of executing it effectively to make sure every project passes.
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