Unit 4: Leadership and Teams
Throughout this course, we define managers as people who work with and through other people to accomplish the goals of an organization. One important managerial function we have not yet touched upon is motivation, or the ability to persuade and inspire others to commit to an organization and its goals. A good leader must be a good manager if he or she wishes to get a lot accomplished. In order to get work done, managers must often foster collaboration between employees so that individuals with different skills from different parts of a company can successfully contribute to projects. The concept of collaboration has evolved into the practice of creating teams comprising specific individuals with complementary skills who gather around a common purpose. This purpose might include accomplishing a specific task, addressing a particular problem, revising an internal company process, etc.
The term team is used so frequently today that the meaning of this concept is often diluted. Still, contemporary companies and organizations rely on the efforts of different kinds of teams, and many times an organization will pull together teams with members scattered over multiple locations – even multiple countries – in an effort to bring together the skills and competencies needed to address a significant task.
One of the key roles of any manager is to establish the goals and purposes of a team and to select appropriate team members. From there, the team will more or less independently work to accomplish its purpose under the supervision of a leader, who must organize and manage the team effectively.
What does a successful team look like? Would you be surprised to know that the best teams actually experience conflicts? In fact, conflict can be a productive force capable of generating new ideas and multiple options for consideration. The key is to avoid letting professional conflict spill over into personal relationships, a task that is difficult to achieve without careful study and practice. In this unit, you will look at the different stages of group development in order to learn how to create a successful team and avoid the common pitfalls of working with a team.
Completing this unit should take you approximately 7 hours.
Upon successful completion of this unit, you will be able to:
- analyze the key elements of leadership skills, power, and politics;
- apply the essential principles of quality leadership; and
- discuss the stages of team development and the dynamics of managing teams.
4.1.1: Management vs. Leadership
Watch this short video for a refreshing view on the definition of leadership and the impact leaders can make on the lives of others.
Watch this lecture for a motivational message on what makes leaders great.
Read this article, which features an interview with Massachusetts Institute of Technology Professor Deborah Ancona. Should all leaders throw away their old models of leadership? Which of the four capabilities discussed in this article would you consider to be of greatest importance? Or, should all capabilities be given equal importance? Why or why not?
4.1.2: Leaders and Leadership
Read this article and consider whether or not you agree with Mr. Immelt's argument that leadership may have no shelf life. Do you feel that it is necessary for GE, or any large organization, to continually change its leadership strategies? Are some strategies universal and time-tested? Do you think that any of the 10 qualities of leadership stand out more than others? Or, should they all be given equal weight? Why or why not?
4.1.3: Common Failures in Leadership
Read this article and consider Warren Bennis' ongoing references to William Shakespeare. Do you agree with Bennis' premise that people purposefully choose to avoid negative comments? Or, is our aversion to negativity an unconscious act? What do you think of Bennis' theory that we do what we believe we should without considering whether or not we are moving toward what we desire?
4.1.4: Management's Power and Influence
Read this section, which introduces power and politics within the business world. This section closely examines Steve Jobs, the former CEO of Apple Inc., and the ways he used power strategies to achieve business success.
Read this section, which addresses the meaning of power. Power ultimately can be considered to be one's ability to influence others, a skill that all managers need to possess, regardless of their level of management within an organization. It also discusses the consequences of power as managers use it.
Read this section, which discusses and defines different types of power. As you are learning about these different types of power, keep in mind that all managers have a dominant style of power, or a style they are most comfortable with. But if a manager relies only on utilizing one type of power, they may find themselves in situations where their management loses some of its effectiveness. A good manager has to develop an understanding of all types of power, and then use this understanding to shape how he or she will respond within any given situation.
Read this section, which discusses how to interpret, manage, and prioritize organizational politics. As you will see, lack of opportunity often leads to feelings of contempt and jealousy in the workplace. One example is the absence of upward mobility within a given company. If employees believe there is an absence of these opportunities, they in turn may perceive the organization as being overly political. This section gives strategies to minimize politics within an organization and promote a more harmonious environment.
Read this section, which emphasizes the benefits of working towards improving internal and external social networking. In today's management environment, no one should overlook or underestimate the power of social networking. As you read, focus on the discussion of social networking as it applies to management and the analysis of social networking's influence on an organization's ability to remain relevant within the marketplace.
Read this section, which examines how ethics and culture impact power. Having power without the ability to exercise some level of control will inevitably lead to a variety of ethical challenges. This potential for the misuse of power increases significantly when a company makes the decision to conduct business globally. Regardless of the setting and field in which a business operates, an organization should consider how power is harnessed and applied, and how it can be used to minimize or eliminate cultural or ethical challenges.
Read sections 13.8 and 13.9, which review the tools necessary to create a thriving work environment. Earlier in this course, you were introduced to the concept of social networking and its impact on an organization's ability to remain competitive and relevant. As you read this section's real-life application of social networking, keep in mind that before you can actually apply any of these concepts in an organizational setting, you have to first understand how these concepts impact you individually. Too often individuals mismanage themselves and prematurely claim to possess the tools needed to properly manage strategic business environments. Throughout your studies in this course, you should be applying important concepts to your own business studies and analyzing how you can use this information to achieve individual success in management. Be sure to click "Next Section" to read section 13.9.
4.2.1: Case Study: General Electric Allows Teamwork to Take Flight
Read the introduction and section 13.1, which discusses the concept of teamwork through an analysis of GE's employee practices. Once you have finished this unit, you may want to take another look at this case study to solidify your knowledge of teamwork.
4.2.2: Managing Group Dynamics
Read this section, which discusses both formal and informal group dynamics. Pay particular attention to the foundational model of team and group development. Several other team development models are available, but the Tuckman model is one of the most popular today. Punctuated equilibrium is a more radical approach to understanding groups and teams. This team-building model is based on the idea that teams go through periods of stability and periods of rapid change. What happens during these alternating periods is what makes this approach to managing teams so unique.
Read this article, which explains team and group formation and development. Pay particular attention to the section describing the five stages of group development.
4.2.3: Identifying the Characteristics of a Team
Read this section, which identifies the main characteristics of a team. Note that a group and a team are not always one and the same. Make sure you understand these differences before you move on.
Read this article, which describes the components of teams and groups and the pros and cons of effective teamwork.
4.2.4: How Do Managers Organize Effective Teams?
Read this section, which discusses how managers strategize when forming teams. Establishing team norms is an essential part of the team-building process. This section covers how to host team meetings and how to efficiently and effectively guide a team.
4.2.5: Managing the Barriers to Effective Teams
Read this section, which examines some of the common challenges that managers typically face when presiding over workplace teams. How have some of these concepts been applied to some of your own workplace situations? If you have never participated in a team, look at some of the case studies in this course.
4.2.6: The Areas of Team Development
Read this article and consider Dr. Lafair's process for team formation. Think about whether or not this process can be consistently successful. Might there be situations in which team development might not ever get to the perform stage? Might there be situations in which a team might be consistently successful, yet not reach the transforming stage? What situations might render the transforming stage ineffective?
4.3: Team Management
4.3.1: Leading a Diverse Team
Read this article and consider the following questions: Why are diverse teams so common in the modern business world? What are the differences between diverse and homogeneous teams? What are some of the challenges, advantages, and pitfalls of diverse teams? Why are Dr. Maznevski's three stages to implementing a high-performing team essential to a team's performance?
4.3.2: Major Pointers for Building Teams
As you read this article, consider the following questions: Why do organizations need teamwork? Why do employees need teamwork? What is team-building, and when should teams engage in team-building activities? What characteristics are present in high-performing teams, and what characteristics are present in dysfunctional teams? How can team-building exercises help these two types of teams?
4.3.3: Controlling Your Inner Circle
Watch this video about the importance of surrounding yourself with positive people in order to become a strong leader.
Read this article. Why is team-building important to an organization? How can team-building activities improve team performance? Do you currently work in a team environment? If so, does your team implement any of the steps to build a winning team? How does this process affect the team's performance?
Reflect on the article you have just read about building a winning team. What roles have you played as part of a team in your own work environment? Do you prefer to work alone or with others, based on your past experiences with teamwork?
Share your thoughts on these questions in the course discussion forum. Read the responses that other students have posted and post your own comments. Be sure to take advantage of this opportunity to connect with your peers and to receive meaningful feedback of your own.
4.3.5: Managing Team Conflict
As you read this article, consider the following questions: Why does conflict occur? What is your own typical conflict style? How can you improve the way you currently handle conflict?
4.3.6: All Managers Delegate
Read this article and consider the following questions: Why is delegation an important management skill? Why do managers hesitate to delegate? How can planning help managers improve delegation results? In your current job, do you delegate as often as you should? If not, why?
Unit 4 Assessment
- Receive a grade
Take this assessment to see how well you understood this unit.
- This assessment does not count towards your grade. It is just for practice!
- You will see the correct answers when you submit your answers. Use this to help you study for the final exam!
- You can take this assessment as many times as you want, whenever you want.