Chapter 12

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University of Guelph
Human Resources and Organizational Behaviour
HROB 2010
Casey Cosgrove

Chapter 12: Team Leadership Description • Ateam is a specific type of group composed of members who are interdependent, who share common goals, and who must coordinate their activities to accomplish these goals • Examples of such teams include project management teams, task forces, work unites, standing committees, quality teams, and improvement teams • Teams have an applied function within an organizational context • Ateam has specified roles for its members with requisite knowledge and skills to perform these roles • Porter and Beyerlein (2000), indicate that the study of groups actually began in the 1920s and 1930s, with the focus of the human relations movement on collaborative efforts at work, as opposed to the individual efforts previously advocated by scientific management theorists • Mankin, Cohen, and Bikson referred to the new organization as being “team-based, technology-enabled” ◦ The organizational team-based structure is an important way to remain competitive by responding quickly and adapting to constant, rapid change • Research on the effectiveness of organizational teams has suggested that the use of teams has led to greater productivity, a more effective use of resources, better decisions and problem solving, better-quality products and services, and greater innovation and creativity • For teams to be successful, the organizational culture needs to support employee involvement • Many teams have failed because they exist in a traditional authority structure that does not promote upward communication or decision making at lower levels • Teams will have great difficulty in organizational cultures that are no supportive of collaboration work and decision making • Zaccaro, Heinen, and Shuffler (2009), urge the development of conceptual frams or models that differ from traditional leadership theory by focusing on leader-team interactions (team- centric) instead of leader-subordinate (leader-centric) interactions • Traditional leadership approaches do not explain how leaders develop their teams • “Afocus on team leadership necessitates attention to the process by which teams develop critical capabilities. Contingencies that necessitate shifts in leader action are linked to task and team development dynamics that vary within teams and over time” • Researchers have claimed that “Effective leadership processes” are the most critical factor in team success • Leadership functions can be performed by the formal team leader and/or shared by team members • Day, Gronn, and Salas (2004) referred to this shared or distributed leadership as team leadership capacity, encompassing the leadership repertoire of the entire team • Distributed leadership involves the sharing of influence by team members who step forward when situations warrant providing the leadership necessary and then stepping back to allow others to lead Team Leadership Model • The model provides a mental road map to help the leader (or any team member who is providing leadership) diagnose team problems and take appropriate action to correct these problems • Hill's Model for Team Leadership (look at figure 12.1) is based on the functional leadership claim that the leader's job is to monitor the team and then take whatever action is necessary to ensure team effectiveness • The model provides a tool for understanding the very complex phenomenon of team leadership, starting at the top with its initial leadership decisions, then moving to the leader actions, and finally focusing on the indicators of team effectiveness • The model attempts to integrate meditation and monitoring concepts • The model prescribes specific actions that leaders can perform to improve team effectiveness • Effective team leaders need a wide repertoire of communication skills to monitor and take appropriate action • The model is designed to simplify and clarify the complex nature of team leadership and to provide an easy tool to aid leadership problem solving • Effective team performance begins with the leader's mental model of the situation ◦ This mental model reflects not only the components of the problem confronting the team, but also the environmental and organizational contingencies that define the larger context of team action ◦ The leader develops a model of what the team problem is and what solutions are possible in this context, given the environmental and organizational constraints and resources ◦ According to the mental model, a good leader needs to be behaviorally flexible and have a wide repertoire of actions or skills to meet the team's diverse needs ◦ Effective team leaders are able to construct accurate mental models of the team's problems by observing team functioning, and can take requisite action to solve these problems • Leadership behavior is seen as team-based problem solving, in which the leader attempts to achieve team goals by analyzing the internal and external situation and then selecting and implementing the appropriate behaviors to ensure team effectiveness • Zaccaro et al. (2001) indicated that leaders must use discretion about which problems need intervention, and make choices about which solutions are the most appropriate ◦ The appropriate solution varies by circumstance and focuses on what should be done to make the team more effective ◦ Effective leaders have the ability to determine what leadership interventions are needed, to solve team problems Leadership Decisions • The first of these decision is whether it is most appropriate to continue to observe and monitor the team or to intervene in the team's activities and take action • The second decision is to choose whether a task or a relational intervention is needed • The final decision is whether to intervene at the internal level or at the external level Leadership Decision 1: • The first decision confronting the leader is whether to keep monitoring the team or to take action to help the team • McGrath outlined the critical leadership functions of group effectiveness taking into account the analysis of the situation both internally and externally and whether this analysis indicates that the leader should take an immediate action • Figure 12.2 McGrath's Critical Leadership Functions, demonstrates these two dimensions of leadership behavior: ◦ monitoring versus taking action ◦ internal group issues versus external group issues • With this leaders can diagnose, analyze or forecast problems (monitoring) or we can take immediate action to solve a problem • We can also focus on the problems within the group (internal) or problems outside the group (external ) • The first two quadrants in figure 12.2 focus on the internal operations of the team ◦ The first quadrant, the leader is diagnosing group deficiencies ◦ The second quadrant, the leader is acting to repair or remedy the observed problems ◦ The third and fourth quadrant, focus on the external operations of the team ◦ The third quadrant, the leader is scanning the environment to determine and forecast any external changes that will affect the group ◦ The fourth quadrant, the leader acts to prevent any negative changes in the environment from hurting the team • The first decision confronting the leader is “should I continue monitoring these factors, or should I take action based on the information I have already gathered and structured?” • Leaders need to monitor both the internal and external environments to gather information, reduce equivocality, provide structure, and overcome barriers • Fleishman (1991) described two phases in this initial process: ◦ information search ◦ structuring • Aleader must first seek out information to understand the current state of the team's functioning (information search), and then this information must be analyzed, organized, and interpreted so the leader can decide how to act (information structuring) • Leaders can help their information search process by obtaining feedback from team members, networking with others outside the team, conducting team assessment surveys and evaluating group outcomes • All members of the team can engage in monitoring (information search and structuring) and collectively provide distributed or shared leadership to help the team adapt to changing conditions • Team leaders must take the right action based on this information ◦ “Action mediation is at the heart of leadership because it involves selecting from among competing courses of action and helping the group create a system of organizing that allows it to make quality decisions” • Leaders who prefer to take action might prevent problems from getting out of control ◦ They might not make the right intervention because they do not have alll the information, and might undermine the development of shared leadership • Leaders who prefer to carefully analyze the situation might encourage other team members to emerge as leaders, but might become unmanageable Leadership Decision 2: • The second decision confronting the leader is whether the team needs help in dealing with relational issues or task issues • The focus has been on two critical leadership functions: ◦ Task ◦ Maintenance • Task leadership functions include getting the job done, making decisions, solving problems, adapting to changes, making plans and achieving goals • Maintenance functions include developing a positive climate, solving interpersonal problems, satisfying members needs, and developing cohesion • Superior team leadership focuses constantly on both task and maintenance functions ◦ both types of leadership behaviors have been found to be related to perceived team effectiveness • Task (performance) functions are closely interrelated with maintenance functions ◦ If the team is well maintained and has good relationships, then the members all be able to work together effectively and get their job done ◦ If the team is productive and successful in accomplishing its task, it will be easier to maintain a positive climate and good relations ◦ Failing teams often take their lack of performance out on each other, and fighting teams often accomplish little • Virtual teams must be able to read all the personal and contextual nuances in a world of electronic communications ◦ They must be able to understand the possible causes of silence, misunderstanding, and slights without any of the usual signs to guide them ◦ Leaders must be sensitive to be flow of the team processes, paying attention to the smallest matters to head off potential troubles that could derail the team's task ◦ Virtual teams place even greater demands on team leaders than the more traditional colocated team demanding 50% more time investment Leadership Decision 3: • If a decision was made to take action or intervene, the leader must make the third strategic leadership decision in Figure 12.1 and determine what level of the team process needs leadership attention: ◦ Internal LeadershipActions ◦ External Leadership Actions • Effective team leaders analyze and balance the internal and external demands of the team and react appropriately • Taking an internal relational action to maintain the group and improve interpersonal relationships would be most appropriate • Taking an internal task intervention is needed to focus on goals • Taking an external environmental intervention focusing on obtaining external support for the team might be the most appropriate intervention • To balancing the internal task and relational needs of the team, the leader has to help the team adapt to its external environment • Most teams focus on the internal problems of the Team • It is important for teams to also be externally oriented to “Reach across boundaries to forge dense networks of connection, both inside and outside the organization” LeadershipAction • Teams that are well connected to and protected from their environment will also be more productive • The leader needs the ability to perform these skills and to make strategic choice as to the most appropriate function or skill for the intervention • If the leader decided that team members were not getting along, he or she might decide to initiate conflict management • To be an effective leader, one needs to respond with the action that is required of the situation • It is the job of the leader to analyze and mediate the situation to make the best decisions for the good of the team • Ateam leader needs to recognize and interpret what is getting in the way of the team's goal accomplishment and then make a strategic choice and respond with the appropriate action • If there is a team performance problem, the leader needs to determine the appropriate action to solve this task problem (e.g. goal focusing, standard setting, or training) • If there is a team development problem, then the leader needs to determine the appropriate action to solve this relational problem (e.g. managing conflict or building commitment) • If there is an environment mental problem, the leader needs to determine the appropriate action to solve this context problem (e.g. networking, advocating, or sharing information) Internal Task Leadership Actions: • Set of skills or actions the leader might perform to improve task performance: ◦ Goal focusing (clarifying, gaining agreement) ◦ Structuring for results (planning, visioning, organizing, clarifying roles, delegating) ◦ Facilitating decision making (informing, controlling, coordinating, mediating, synthesizing, focusing on issues) ◦ Training team members in task skills (educating, developing) ◦ Maintaining standards of excellence (assessing team and individual performance, confronting inadequate performance) • If the leader observes that the team members do not have the skills necessary for the task, then the leader might choose an intervention to educate the team members or provide them with necessary skills or professional development (training) • If the leader observes that the team is not clear as to its focus or goals, then he or she might intervene to clarify goals or work with team members to obtain agreement on goals (goal focusing) • If the leader observes that some team members are coming to work late or not attending important meetings, then the leader might have to take direct action to address this inadequate performance (standard setting) • If the leader determines that the team is stuck in day-to-day affairs and not looking to or building for the future, then he or she might intervene by helping the team vision and helping to plan for the future (structuring for results) Internal Relational Leadership Actions • The second set of internal relational leadership actions reflects those that the leader needs to implement to improve team relationships: ◦ Coaching team members in interpersonal skills ◦ Collaborating (including, involving) ◦ Managing conflict and power issues (avoiding confrontation, questioning ideas) ◦ Building commitment and esprit de corps (being optimistic, innovating, envisioning, socializing, rewarding, recognizing) ◦ Satisfying individual member needs (trusting, supporting, advocating) ◦ Modeling ethical and principled practices (fair, consistent, normative) • If after monitoring the relationships between team members, the leader observes that some of the group members are engaged in interpersonal conflict, then the leader should intervene to manage that conflict (managing conflict and power issues) •
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