At the beginning of the semester, the Professor grouped the class into different sub-groups to complete the assigned project within four months. I was grouped with students who I have known for the past three years and thought this would be an easy task and would result in good grades. Our group was to evaluate the different implementation techniques about the project on Generating Innovative Idea for Sustainable Environment Conservation. As soon as we commenced our group meetings, we decided to elect the chairperson and assistant chairperson, and I was elected the leader (Barnett and Weidenfeller, 2016). The first two weeks in the post, I realised that managing a group of people can be demanding, chaotic and confusing. I decided to refer to the academic concepts of teamwork, leadership and leading a team. To be specific, I saw to several theories invented by philosophers such as Belbin (2012), Tuckman (1965) and Myers Briggs Theory. The arguments gave me fundamental ideas that I used to manage the group in various aspects including team member roles and to intertwine these roles with individual characteristics- based on Belbin Team Role theory (Belbin, 2012), talents and abilities. The current paper is a concise presentation of the team leadership aspects I encountered from a reflective point of view. I shall present the benefits, challenges, and realisations I discovered when running a team. Collaboratively, I will present academic knowledge that aided me in the process of running a chaotic team which eventually, became the most organized, structured and role-oriented team.
Bruce Tuckman (1965) invented the Team-Development Model which describes that a team develops based on the maturity and ability of its members and the capability within leadership (Tuckman, 1965). Leadership is an essential factor in any team since it provides direction and motivation to what the group’s primary purpose and goals entail. In the beginning, I thought that being friends we would work together and complete the assigned task without any hinderances or squabbles. To my shocking discovery, functions within a project can destabilise people. Therefore, I decided to undertake a research approach to understand what a team is and how leadership is critical to the success of any team. According to Tuckman’s Team-Development Model, leadership entails possessing a directive style of management which involves coaching then participation and delegation of duties. The advantage of taking this approach is that it allows a team to grow and develop into a progressive group whose behaviour increases the success of any task at hand. Therefore, I decided to research more on leadership styles and settled on transformation leadership (Bass and Riggio, 2006). The type of leadership encompasses the directional change of team members to a positive outcome.
One Saturday evening I gathered the group in a quiet area to discuss the way forward with the team. Before considering how to continue undertaking the assigned project, we took ten minutes to understand each other, express our gratitude and any issues we held back about the group. I tasked on the team members to write down the grievances, and after the round discussion, we talked about the way forward in ensuring that the team harmoniously pursued the tasks. The conversation coincided with Abraham Maslow’s theory on the Hierarchy of Needs with specificity to self-actualisation (Cherry, 2011). Therefore, the team members were aligned with the need to fulfil their potential in the assigned project.
The next step was to discuss the pertinent issues regarding ways to complete the project ensuring that each member participated in the project. Under transformational leadership, leaders are required to engage with the members. I discussed with team members that it was better if different roles were determined first, then each member chooses the position that suits them best. We tested our personalities using the Myers Briggs personality tests, and from this, tasks were assigned (Furnham, 2017). For instance, for members who were introverts were paired together with extroverts. The reason is that the project required approaching people and collecting information and an extrovert would best do this. However, my main concern was, as the project tasks were being handled, the team members would address each other’s weaknesses and improve on them and enhance their strengths as well.
Additionally, when it comes to the aspect of leadership, I ensured that I singled out a team member who would succeed me in times when I was not present during team meetings. According to Belbin (2012) establishing a team role where a leader is involved is crucial. In transformational leadership, a leader should be aware that their character can change at any one time. Therefore, it is advised that a team leader should have a mentorship member who can take up the lead role where necessary in case of absenteeism. Borrowing from the aspects of transformation leadership, I decided to once every month to let another team member take the lead in the meetings (Bass and Briggs, 2006). The process ensured that the team members would be equipped with the right characters to continue in case any issues arose during the project.
I also decided that it was best the team meets every week to discuss and panel-beat on the issues raised while conducting research. Each member was accountable for their teammate’s actions, and this ensured that the team was at per with the set deadlines. For example, it was best if the teammates would present their findings of each task assigned during each meeting. Each teammate would not present consecutively allowing the other to take the lead role and present. The reason for making this approach was to ensure that the teammates would improve on their presentation skills as well as confidence. According to Myers Briggs personality attributes, establishing one’s weaknesses is necessary to know what to work on, and during the meetings, I encouraged the team members to help each other improve on their shortcomings which in our case, was confidence in presenting in front of people.
In summary, the management of a group of individuals can be a daunting task. However, with the right tools including knowledge on relative theories on leadership and teamwork, a leader is guaranteed improved handling of the team members and successful project completion.
Bass, B.M. and Riggio, R.E., 2006. Transformational leadership. Psychology Press.
Barnett, R.C., and Weidenfeller, N.K., 2016. Shared leadership and team performance. Advances in Developing Human Resources, 18(3), pp.334-351.
Cherry, K., 2017. Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs. Dursun, A.(2011). Dede Korkut Hikâyelerinde Halk Hukuku. Electronic Turkish studies, 6(4).
Furnham, A., 2017. Myers-Briggs type indicator (MBTI). Encyclopedia of personality and individual differences, pp.1-4.
Belbin, R.M., 2012. Team roles at work. Routledge. Pp. 16-45.
Tuckman, B.W., 1965. Developmental sequence in small groups. Psychological Bulletin, 63(6), p.384.