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Leadership is the process where one person influences others, by persuasion, coercion, or other methods, to support accomplishment of a common task. A corrective action team leader aims to influence others accomplish tasks aimed at restoring a previous state or correct a mistake. Such a specialized nature of leadership requires some special skills and strategies over general leadership skills.
A leader in a normal situation may try to make the best out of the given situation, or motivate employees on what works best. A corrective action team leader looking to correct the mistake or restore the systems and procedures to the ideal state, always has clear-cut, precise, and time bound goals and objectives to attain, with little room for experimentation or dilution of goals and objectives.
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The basic strategy for effectively leading a corrective action team is identifying the causes for the mistake, determining the extent of the deviance from the desired state, chalk out various solutions to reach the desired state, and select and implement the best approach. Implementation of the solution need to be followed up by evaluation for any required adjustments or tweaks.
The corrective action team leader needs to demonstrate personal mastery and lead from the front over the entire process, especially in identifying the cause of the problem, determining the extent of deviance, and selecting the best approach.
The corrective action team leader might also have to micro-manage the change process at times, involving the finer aspects, and paying attention to detail. At times, the situation might call for an autocratic style of leadership, with the leader giving followers clear and precise instructions.
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While micro-management and autocratic leadership have their uses when leading a corrective action team, such approaches are not the default strategy.
The corrective action team leader rather needs to adopt a facilitative leadership style and help the team effect the corrective action. The methods of facilitation extend to:
- Involving the team in the planning and organizing process
- Ask questions and record answers in an attempt to identify the cause of the problem and possible solutions
- Empowering the team to take actions based on the set targets
- Emphasizing active two-way listening and communication among team members
- Keeping the team focused on the goals through discussions, reminders, and other interventions
- Monitoring the team and intervening to micro-manage only when the situation warrants
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First Things First
A corrective action team leader needs to take up first things first. When identifying the cause of the problem, the focus should be on how to correct the mistake rather than undertaking a postmortem on what happened or to fix blame or file a report. While such an inquest is indeed necessary to fix responsibility and ensure such things do not reoccur; that takes secondary importance and is best dealt with after the correction.
The corrective action team leader needs to enlist the support of everyone, including the people responsible for the mistake warranting the corrective action in the first place. The leader supporting them might prompt them to put in their best effort in a bid to atone for the mess.
It is nevertheless worth keeping proper records and documents during the change process to facilitate a detailed postmortem analysis at a later stage.
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The corrective action team leader needs to remain flexible in leadership styles and strategies. The leader also needs to consider the exigencies of the situation and adopt ad-hoc measures, as required. Compliance with normal procedures and polices might not always be possible when undertaking corrective actions, but delay in making corrections can be fatal. In such situations, the leader needs to put normal systems in a state of temporary freeze. The leader, however, needs to ensure due compliance with all required procedures once the change is effected, including any backlogs.
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Hackett, Donald, & Martin, Chrles, L. “Facilitation Skills for Team Leaders.” http://www.ntu.edu/notes/BusManChannel/notes/FSTM0000_pm.pdf. Retrieved 08 March 2011.
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