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Team Leadership

Scenario:

When the team members at Widgets, Inc. sat down for their next meeting, they were surprised to see a single piece of paper at each chair.

“What is this?” asked Linda from IT, picking up the single sheet from her chair. “It looks like…”

“A contract,” chimed in Frank from the marketing department, as he turned the sheet over in his hands.

“Exactly,” said Tim. “It’s a team contract. Just like all of you are familiar with your employment contract, this team contract spells out the specifics of your roles and responsibilities for participating on the team. Unlike an employment contract, it’s not legally binding. But it does state how you’re expected to behave in a respectful manner to others—and also the protections you enjoy against disrespectful behavior.”

“But surely we all know each other, Tim,” said Linda. “We’re familiar with one another. We’re practically old friends.”

“Think of the concept of the Johari window,” said Tim. “It’s a concept that dates back to the 1950s that suggests there are certain elements of everyone’s character that are knowable to yourself and to others. But there are other qualities that are only knowable to yourself and still others that are only knowable to others, but not to yourself. In other words, we all have to engage in continual exploration of the self and the impressions we create. Quite often, we may engage in behaviors that are unknowingly harmful.”

“But is this really necessary to achieve our goals?” asked Frank. “Isn’t that what good teamwork is all about? Achieving goals?”

“A more productive way to think of teamwork may be using the GRPI model, or to see effective teams as consisting of goals, roles, processes, and interpersonal relationships. It’s necessary for people to be self-aware about the roles they are playing to improve the processes and their interpersonal relationships to achieve those goals.”

“It’s true,” said Linda. “None of us here want to be offensive to one another, but when we’re focused on an idea, sometimes it can be easy to be dismissive of another person’s feelings, especially when delegating tasks.”

“Rather than delegation, or simply telling you what to do, I prefer to think of myself as empowering you as a leader, or making you aware of your strengths so you don’t feel hampered to take the initiative. That’s another reason for this contract, however, so we’re all able to do so without making other people feel as if their boundaries are being violated. These are also known as high leader-member exchange (LMX) relationships, which are founded upon a mutual sense of trust that members want to do things—and that you know I, as a leader, set rules for the good of the team, not because I’m engaged in egotistical wish fulfillment. I hope to offer you guidance, rather than leading in an authoritarian manner.”

“I’ve always appreciated how you encourage multiskilling,” said Beth from human resources. “In other words, encouraging people to develop skills that stretch beyond those of narrowly defined competencies. For example, you allowed me to give input into the training for the new software we installed, even though I don’t have technical skills, because I was able to use my understanding of learning to determine what aspects of the program would be the most challenging for laypersons. Now, I feel much better equipped to comment on how technology can be integrated into the workday.”

“Anyway, although a contract sounds like a very formal and intimidating document, think of it as something that protects your rights as a team member, not as signing your lives away!” said Tim.

The team members looked visibly more relaxed.

Address the following questions in your response:

What is a team contract?
What is the Johari window?
What are high-LMX relationships beneficial to?
What do the letters in the GRPI model stand for?
How can the GRPI model be used?
What factors are unproductive in team exercises?
What is the key difference between empowerment and delegation?
What does the term multiskilling refer to, and how is it used?
What measures are not advisable to use when measuring team performance?
What is the SMART acronym used for in management?
What should generally be avoided when giving feedback?
What is not beneficial when building a collaborative work environment?

Sample Solution

edler’s contingency model offers a very austere categorisation of leadership, clearly defining which situations will and will not result in success for a potential leader. At the senior management level of a hierarchal structure within an organisation the theory can be applied freely, firstly due to the ease at which persons can be replaced if their LPC score does not match that required of the situation (Pettinger, 2007). Secondly, and most importantly, is to ensure that the senior management are best equipped to lead the organisation successfully. However, further down the hierarchy Fielder’s contingency theory begins to hold much less relevance, it becomes impractical from a organisational perspective due to the number of people at this level of leadership. The logistics of matching the leader with their least preferred co-worker is impossible to consistently achieve, so a more continuum based approach is required. Figure 1: Chelladurai’s Multi-Dimensional Model of Leadership (Miller and Cronin, 2012) There are other contingency theories that provide a more continuum based approach such as Redding’s theory of leadership and management, however Fielder’s description of how situational factors affect the leadership style required for the situation is extremely useful in understanding the fundamentals of leadership (Pettinger, 2007). Chelladurai in his Multi Dimensional Model of Leadership, expands on much of Fiedler’s theory but in a continuum based approach, in which the leader can adapt their leadership style to fit the situation (Chelladurai and Madella, 2006). Chelladurai’s theory is taken from sports psychology but can be applied to an organisational scenario. It provides a much more empirical categorisation of task structure, clearly differentiating a plethora of situations that require certain leadership styles for success. Chealldurai found three characteristics that affect the leadership style required for a situation, called antecedents, they mainly expand upon Fiedler’s situational factors and leader – member relations and ultimately affect how a leader should behave towards a situation. The first are situational characteristics, the environment in which the leader must perform, the second are leader characteristics, the experience, personal qualities and skills of the leader, and the third are member characteristics, the motivation, skill and experience levels of group members (Chelladurai and Madella, 2006). The situational characteristics and member characteristics have a required behaviour to ensure maximum group performance, they also have a preferred behaviour to ensure the satisfaction of group members, if the leaders actual behaviour matches both the required behaviour and preferred behaviour of the situation the consequence is maximum group performance and satisfaction. However, if the group are not performing and achieving goals or are not satisfied or both, then the leader is able to amend their actual behaviour to improve this. Leaders able to monitor performance and satisfaction, and understand what is required to amend the situation will achieve optimum group performance in Chelladurai’s model.
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