The linking leader - essential skills development

by 12 Apr 2012

We live in an increasingly borderless world. The global infiltration of the Internet has eroded all borders of time, distance and language. This is increasingly so with the advent of social media, which has revolutionised the way the world does and will communicate.

In this era of the knowledge explosion, what often differentiates successful leaders from not-so-successful leaders is their ability to co-ordinate, influence, motivate and inspire their staff. These soft skills are the social competencies that are critical for organisational success. They are the skills of the Linking Leader (see left).


Linking skills

 The Margerison-McCann Team Management Wheel

Many of you will be familiar with the Team Management Wheel ( and above) and the ideas behind work preferences. These concepts have been invaluable to team members, helping them understand the behaviour of colleagues at work.

At the centre of this wheel is Linking, which encompasses 13 core competencies. These skills need to be implemented by all team members for the team to be successful.

The people linking skills

Six of the linking skills are associated with people skills. These are the skills that create an atmosphere of harmony and trust.



Communication covers the concept of ‘pacing, where team members need to vary their communication style to match the preferences of the person they are talking to. This enhances rapport and leads to better outcomes.

Active listening means 'listening' to others and showing them that you are interested in what they say by asking questions, building on what they say, and summarizing what has been said.

Good team relationships are critical for success. If there is a lack of respect, understanding and trust in the team, then there is no real team.

Problem solving & counselling means that team members will be available and responsive when other team members have a problem.

Participative decision making requires team members to be involved in decision making on key issues, so that there is joint ownership of solutions and commitment to their implementation.

Interface management is a term used to describe the process of managing the links between each team member and between teams.


The task linking skills

Five of the linking skills are related to team tasks, creating a solid foundation on which the work of the team relies. They promote confidence and stability.



Work Allocation means assigning tasks to team members according to their strengths.

Delegation is a process of training and coaching people so that they develop competence.  Competence leads to confidence, which then leads to trust.

Objectives are pivotal. Research has shown that teams with clear achievable goals are more focused, motivated and productive than those that do not have a sense of purpose or direction.

Quality Standards - Consistent quality is one of the keys to long-term organisational success.


The leader linking skills

Two additional linking skills are essential for team leaders – motivation and strategy.

Effective leaders articulate a compelling vision of the team’s future. If people are to give of their best they need to have a clear picture of what lies ahead. A leader who focuses unwaveringly on the team goals will inspire team members to give of their best.

Business issues are complex and survival depends on an effective and fluid strategy. In such a complex world, it’s important to differentiate between the ‘quick fix’ and the underlying root cause of any problems. A good example from everyday life is the headache. The ‘quick fix’ is an aspirin but this doesn’t solve the long-term problem. A strategic thinker will spend time looking for the root cause, considering the interaction of all elements involved in any complex issue.  A dream without action planning remains simply a dream. 


Capitalising on today’s business opportunities requires a visionary leader who knows how to inspire individuals and teams. Outstanding leaders are not those that are good technically, but those that can build teams, motivate others and inspire them to give their best, often cross culturally. This requires excellent emotional intelligence or soft skills, Linking Skills, which can be learnt and developed over time.

It is these soft skills that distinguish a manager from a leader.


About the author

Julie Pigdon is the business development manager at Team Management Solutions. For further information phone 07 3368 2333, email or visit