Managing Teams: Personal Experience of Leadership

Introduction

My organization has been in business for the last 20 years. The main purpose of the organization is to produce quality consumer products that have far-reaching advantages in the lives of consumers in terms of improving health, personal, and home care. This has been set to be achieved by a wide variety of consumer products produced by the company’s factories. My organization is a major producer of consumer products both locally and internationally. The company produces food products, personal care, and home care products. Food products include margarine and cooking fat while personal and home care products include soaps, detergents, and petroleum jelly.

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Since I joined the company, I have been working in the personal care department whereby there is the manufacturing of beauty soap and general-purpose soap. In this department, I am a team leader in a project that is targeted to achieve production targets and reduce the wastage of materials in the department.

Teamwork

This refers to the unity of working together towards achieving certain objectives in organizations. Team spirit is essential for improved productivity of individuals in an organization because it brings mindsets together which means concentration of efforts towards achieving organizations objectives.

Key features of teams

Successful teams in organizations have important characteristic features that enhance the performance of the members.

Cooperation

This refers to the ability of all members to agree with all that is discussed in the team.

Cooperation in a team means that all members have to agree with the terms and conditions that are characteristic of the particular team. It can also mean adherence to the rules and regulations that are set up by the team members.

Cooperation between members of a team facilitates the smooth running of activities within the group hence achievement of targets at this level becomes easy. Lack of cooperation between group members can scatter those members apart which means that no important can take place in such a group.

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Participation

Teams require an individual contribution to facilitate team activities. It is actually individual contribution and efforts in the team that brings about solutions to the issues which are supposed to be handled by the group. Without the participation of all members decisions made in the team would not be all-inclusive but they can be said to be one person’s ideas or making.

Coordination

Teams require good coordination from all the members to succeed in achieving their objectives. This coordination is supposed to ensure that each and every member has his or her contribution and it is well integrated into the team so as to achieve targets. This is opposed to groups whereby the leader can provide the way which can then be followed by members so as to achieve targets. Without coordination, the contributions and efforts of all members would not be harmonized so as to achieve the objectives.

Partnership

This is an important key element for the success of teams. This is because once there are partnerships members of a team can easily notice one another in terms of views, opinions, and efforts and hence they can be integrated easily to achieve set targets. The partnership facilitates agreement and harmony within a team unlike the case of a group with which with or without a partnership, decisions have to be achieved at the end of it.

Types of teams in organizations

The three main types of teams found in the organization are:

  • Work teams
  • Project teams
  • Focus teams

Work teams are formed at the workplace for the purpose of driving continuous improvement in the activities of the employees within the organization. The activities can include punctuality to duties and other work-related activities. They are normally permanent in nature and the members from the same department are given some objectives to achieve.

Project groups are temporary groups formed to solve a specific problem or to undertake a specific task in the organization. This is so because, in every workplace, some time is needed off the work time to work on projects. An individual can exist in both the work team and in the project team.

The focus teams are formed in the organizations for the sake of maintaining attention to the specific areas of the organization that is key to its success. This includes areas such as waste reduction, cost reduction, and so on. They are also referred to as cross-functional groups and they may be permanent or semi-permanent depending on the type of activity that they are made to accomplish in their formation.

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In my organization, there are work teams that are quite instrumental in the achievement of organizational objectives. Work teams in the organization promote the spirit of idea generation and sharing within the organization. Through ideas sharing much is accomplished in terms of innovations and creativity in the execution of duties in the work process. This is very important for the organization to achieve its targets. Efficiency in the productivity of the employees is greatly enhanced through work teams. Through the work teams process change is easy and solving daily problems is also an easy task and updating of procedures becomes an easy undertaking by the management. Through this it becomes very easy for out organization to achieve its goals and objectives.

Project teams are also in existence in our organization and they have their role towards organizational growth and development. This is because once a particular problem is identified such groups are formed and members are required to work to their best in their area of competence and hence the results are expected to bring about improvements and growth in the organization. The teams have a chance of consulting from outside if possible so as to achieve better their objectives in matters which require the member to do so.

In the management process, teams are not involved. This is because the management process of the organization is bureaucratic and if teams were to be involved it would slow down the entire process of decision making in the organization.

Team formation

According to Tuckman , teams are formed using three models.

The first model of team formation concerns members coming together in an informal or chaotic manner followed by a formal stage then finally a skillful stage.

The second model starts with the forming and storming stage where members are still engaging each other and there is no clarification of issues. This is followed by the norming stage where there is an element of clarity and some formality.

The final stage in this model is the performing stage where there is some sort of relaxed clarity.

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The third model of group formation starts with orientation, deliberation and conflict whereby there is no formal structure.

This is followed by the emergence and trust where by formalization comes in.

The last stage in this model is characterized with reinforcement and clarity is relaxed.

Bruce Tuckman came up with five stages of group development.

The first stage is whereby members are meeting and agreeing to form the group.

There is discussion of the group opportunities and challenges. This stage is characterized by confusion amongst members especially on the role they are supposed to play in the team. The team members agree on the roles and actions to be taken and they also set out rules to govern the process. Leadership is fundamental at this stage for the purpose of building the team. Leadership can come from a member the manager or supervisor in an organization. Leadership is instrumental in identifying the requirements of the team so as to provide guidance in all the processes.

Stage two concerns the beginning of ideas beginning to be expressed by most of the members. This stage is characterized by open conflicts between members as they express differing opinions. There is marked interest on details more than on issues and members are known not to be trustful to one another at this stage as this can be noticed by the high level of competition between them. Leadership is essential at this stage to foster the spirit of tolerance and patience amongst the members of the team. Furthermore the leader is supposed to steer the team towards the defined goals and the acceptable behavior and proper communication between the members.

Stage three involves development of habits that are in tandem with the group rules and regulations. There is positive attitude towards team activities.

The forth stage is characterized by high level motivation , loyalty and participation of members.Personal growth and sharing of ideas is evident at this stage.

The fifth and final stage there is recognition and celebration of what the team has achieved since its formation.

An analysis of my team reveals that the team is in the third stage of development. Members have began demonstrating obedience to the rules and regulations. There is positive attitude towards team activities and enhanced communication between the members. This evidences the change that has been realized from the previous two stages in which there was a lot of conflicts between members as they tried to express varying opinions and view points.

Characteristics of an effective team

Truthfulness and openness

This is a virtue that should be demonstrated by all the members of the team towards one another. This can be developed by the leader encouraging members to open up during discussions and be honest in their thoughts.

Commitment

All members show commitment towards achieving happy endings for the team. This can be fostered by encouraging members to take the team activities seriously and give it the required attention.

Care for one another

All members of a successful team show concern for one another to ensure everyone contributes to the maximum. This can be developed by showing understanding towards individual differences that exist between the members.

Addressing conflict

Successful teams always confront conflicts head on and with a lot of caution. This can be developed by allowing members to debate substantially on contentious issues before decision making to ensure that conflict is fully addressed before proceeding to other issues.

In my team there is the spirit of commitment as it can be indicated by the turn up to team events. As leader I have been able to note that members and truthful to one another despite one or two elements who are wayward. All the members care for one another for instance when a member is unwell the team would pay the concerned member a visit to wish him/her quick recovery. This therefore goes beyond the workplace. Addressing conflict team has been a major challenge as quite often led to bitter exchanges between members but as the leader I am always in control. The members stay focused because the purpose of the team is well understood and most of the members meet the group standards of participation and performance.

After a research on the state of my team I can note that the team is performing well despite barriers such as lack of consensus decisions in some activities of the team. Members of the team can debate on an issue and fail to reach a consensus. Proper listening to issues is also a barrier to building the team effectiveness.

Team development plan

This plan would encompass all the members and would focus on communication within the group. Members would be encouraged to exercise tolerance and patience and be able to accommodate other people’s opinions because lack of these virtues is responsible for bringing conflict in the group.

All members would undergo critical thinking training skills through my leadership so as to enhance their arguments in matters concerning their performance and execution of duties.

The leader shall organize team building activities that would ensure that members get a chance to bond away from the work environment so as to make the team stronger.

Feedback after seeking the members views has send out a message that as a leader I should in future demonstrate firmness in my decisions as in the past I have loosened my stand in some critical issues.

Key characteristics of an effective leader

An effective leader has to be influential. This is because through the leadership members of the team would be influenced into the right direction towards achieving organizational objectives. Without influential leadership teams are likely to loose direction and hence fail to achieve the anticipated objectives.

An effective leader is visionary and has a dream of what the future of the organization should look like and hence be motivated and motivate members in the direction of a better future.

Effective leaders have confidence and believe in themselves. This coupled with maturity and conviction is able to steer a team into the direction of prosperity.

Leadership styles

Autocratic leadership which is authoritative in nature and the leader dictates what is supposed to be done by the members and he does not seek advice from the members. The leader is actually the boss of everything.

Participatory leadership concerns the leader including the members in the decision making process. The leader goes for a few knowledgeable members for consultation because they may be having information that he is lacking.

Delegative leadership refers to the free reign where the leader allows the members to come up with decisions though he remains overall in charge and is responsible for the decisions made.

My style of leadership is participatory as a have always sought advice from a few members in organizational matters but the teams decisions remain my priority. Though this style is viewed as a weakness by some members my authority as a leader is still felt by the majority in the team. This style has a strength of imparting confidence in the members as they can feel that they are part and parcel of the decision making process and that their contribution towards achieving organizational objectives is recognized. This is evident in the feedback from the team member who advocate for more consultations by the leader in future. Participatory leadership style has made my team members to feel part of the team and has enabled the leader to make more informed decisions than if it were wholly based on my individual thought of things. The improvement I can make on this leadership style would concern the number of people I am supposed to consult. The fewer the number the faster the decisions would be made but with an increasing number of consultations, it is my fear that the decision making process would be slowed down.

Summary and recommendations

In summary I am proud to note that under my leadership the team is performing quite well as it can be witnessed by what has been achieved since the formation of the team. As the leader I will continue to motivate the members of my team into achieving even higher goals in future. This is because the team has been able to reduce conflicts between the members and has improved the performance of individual members in the team and in their respective work areas. Personal growth has been achieved in majority of the members in my team as they continue to embrace the spirit of “yes we can.”

However my team requires more challenging objectives to be set out so that members can feel more motivated to work ahead. This is because, similar goals have become so common in the minds of the members. More attention needs to be paid onappraising the members in my team since their motivation is likely to go down if they feel that they have continued to achieve desirable results yet the rewards are still the same. So for the purpose of sustaining the loyalty of the team members, a system of appraisal for my team members would be necessary in future.

Other teams in the organization should follow my leadership style and avoid imposing issues on members using their autocratic tactics. The issuance of threats and intimidation to the members of a team in an organization is not a good idea. This is because they tend to lead to abuse of office especially by the team leaders.

For better group leadership , I recommend that the members of the team should elect their leader from amongst themselves depending on the good qualities of leadership that are present in some members.

References

Tannenbaum, R. & Schmidt, W. How to Choose a leadership Pattern. Harvard Business Review, 1973, No. 73311 (1958)

Newstrom, John W. & Davis, Keith (1993). Organizational Behavior – Human Behavior at Work. New York: McGraw-Hill.

Tuckman, Bruce. “Developmental sequence in small groups”. Psychological Bulletin 63 (6): 384

Marilyn Vojta, M.A.,Characteristics of the Effective Leader. Web.

Burns, J. M. (1978). Leadership. New York: Harper and Row Publishers Inc.

Blake, R.; Mouton, J. (1964). The Managerial Grid: The Key to Leadership Excellence. Houston: Gulf Publishing Co.

Cecil A Gibb (1970). Leadership (Handbook of Social Psychology). Reading, Mass.: Addison-Wesley. pp. 884–89.

Spillane, James P.; et. al (2004). “Towards a theory of leadership practice”. Journal of Curriculum Studies Vol. 36, No. 1: 3-34.

Rickards, T., & Moger, S., (2000) ‘Creative leadership processes in project team development: An alternative to Tuckman’s stage model’, British Journal of Management, Part 4, pp273-283

Douglas MacGregor The Wisdom of Teams. Web.

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