Leadership Critical Reflection Report Management Essay

This report will discuss the importance of leadership in an organization. To achieve an objective, an organization will rely on individuals it employed. These individuals will then have to collaborate with each other in order to perform a task. However, there is a need for those involved to be directed and motivated to perform this task. The directing and motivating of the personnel is being done by an individual or a leader. The leader is important as they will ensure that the objective or goals of the organization can be achieved within the scope and time limit. The leader must be able to influence and motivate the people around him. This report will briefly explain some model or theories that leader can use to achieve the task.

The first section of this report will discuss on the literature review about the leadership and team work. I will discuss various research articles in relation to leadership, management strategies and team work theory. Although there are numerous organizational behaviour based articles available, my literature review will focus on the following five areas which are Lewin’s Leadership Styles, Blanchard’s Situational Leadership Model, Transformational Leadership, Thamhain’s Nine Ways to Influence on Projects and Tuckman’s Model to Team Development. I will also include some additional related published materials which will help me to fully understand the whole concept of leadership and team work strategies.

Based upon the theories implied within the literature review, I will discuss the type of leadership my peer possesses. In this section I will discuss the leadership and management style that my peer used in order for us to complete the task. The discussion will also take into consideration on how my peer influences, and the method used to motivates the other team member. I will also discuss the positive and negative side of his leadership style and some recommendation based upon the leadership theories presented in the literature review.

In the next section, I will reflect upon my whole team performance based upon the literature review. The process will take into consideration on how the Tuckman’s Group Development Model is used to explain the development of my work group. I will also discuss the importance of having an effective team and how our project team can be identified as an effective team.

In the last section, I will conclude my report based on my personal observation and findings on the whole leadership and team work process. The opportunity to work together as a team for 12 weeks has also broadened my perspective on leadership and on the importance of having an effective team.

Literature Review

Good leadership is essential for businesses, groups and organizations to succeed in achieving their goals. Nelson and Quick (2006) defines leadership as “the process of guiding and directing the behaviour of people in the work environment”. Leaders can influence others through their ability to motivate, inform, inspire and communicate effectively. There are a number of different leadership styles and strategies that can be used to accomplish their organization’s goals and objectives. Each style or strategy of leadership can be used depending on the situation or organization.

This section will discuss on literature review based upon Leadership Theories. The literature review is based upon the articles provided by the unit instructor, printed materials, electronic databases and search engines such as Google Scholar.

Leadership Styles Theory

The earliest researches on leadership style were conducted by Kurt Lewin who identified three basic styles of leaders that are autocratic, democratic and laissez-faire (Nelson & Quick, 2006). These three basic styles of leadership can be use on a team and it may be changed accordingly based upon the situation. The autocratic leader usually rules based upon strong discipline and controlling in nature. This type of leader will usually dominate the group and is suitable if the group is newly formed and still lack of direction. The democratic leader on the other hand is more responsive, and takes into consideration the ideas from their subordinate. A democratic leader will encourage members within the group to actively participate in giving out ideas and helps in setting the direction of the group. This type of leadership is helpful in creating strong relationship between all members. The laissez-faire style leader usually did not implement authority and responsibility and let the subordinate do all the things. This type of leadership is useful especially when all the team members are highly skilled and fully understands their objective.

Leadership Strategies Theory

Leadership Strategies is about how the leader can influence the performance of the group. One of the approaches suggested in this unit is to use the Situational Leadership Model developed by Paul Hersey and Kenneth Blanchard. This model can be adjusted or changed as the project progress. This model is done by matching the leadership style to match the readiness of the group members based upon two characteristic of the leader, which are task behaviour and relationship behaviour (DuBrin, Dalglish, & Miller, 2006). In the task behaviour, the leader will spell out the duties of each individual or group. However, in the relationship behaviour the leader will engage in personal communication which includes listening, encouraging and coaching. This results in four styles which are identified as Telling, Selling, Participating and Delegating.

A leader should use the telling style where the follower is unable and not willing to do the task. This includes providing direct instruction while closely monitoring the individual or group. When a follower is unable but willing to do a task, the leader can use the selling style where he/she will explain decisions and provides opportunity for the follower to seek clarification. In the participating leadership style, the leader involves the group in the decision making process. The delegating style is where the leader delegates responsibility to the group and is informed of the progress.

However, based upon numerous researches done on Situational Leadership Model, it does not really work in reality (Graeff, 1997;Thompson & Vecchio, 2009). The model which was first introduced in 1969 underwent a few changes in order to adapt to its critics. However, as Graeff (1997) discovered in his research, there are a few inconsistencies between the two version of the Situational Leadership Model which creates more confusion. Another group of researcher, Thompson and Vecchio (2009) conducted research by comparing the versions of Situational Leadership Theory plus an additional version. It was found that based upon the feedback, this model is applicable only to certain type of employees. In comparing the multiple version of the model, they also discovered that the revised version was a “poorer predictor of subordinate performance and attitude than the original version”. In summary, they recommend that Situational Leadership Model be taught as a starting point in discussing the interaction between the leader and the follower.

Liz Lee-Kelley (2002) discuss in her published article about the situational approach which is not in direct relation to the Situational Leadership Model. In the article she discusses about the possibility for a leader to change style to manage based upon the situation. Lee-Kelly suggested that from the evidence, there is no single style that is right for every manager under all circumstances. The study also confirms that a manager’s ability to control and influence the team or situation have impacts on his management style.

Research in leadership field is ongoing as it is an important aspect of the organizational behaviour. Two types of leadership style which was recently introduced are the transactional and transformational leadership style. Transactional leadership is characterized by leaders and followers being in exchange relationship (DuBrin, Dalglish, & Miller, 2006). This type of leadership relies on rewards and punishment to deal with followers. Meanwhile, the transformational leaders rely more on their personal attributes to inspire and excite followers to high level of performance (Nelson & Quick, 2006).

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Bass (2010) encouraged organizations to train their leaders to be a transformational leader as it will greatly impact the motivation and work ethic of the employees around them. By having the transformational leaders within their organization, it will boost up their corporate image not only internally but publicly as well. This leader will attract more intelligent prospects to join the organization which in turns increase the value of the organization.

Management Strategies Theory

Employees have choice in their work life, if they don’t like the job, they can leave or switch department. In order to be successful, organization must be able to retain the people to do the job, as training new people will consume more time and other related resources. As pointed by Schwalbe (2007), H.J. Thamhain and D.L. Wilemon conducted a research on the approaches a Project Manager use to deal with workers and identified nine influence bases available for them:

Authority – the legitimate hierarchical right to issue order

Assignment – the project manager’s perceived ability to influence a worker’s later work assignments

Budget – the project manager’s perceived ability to authorise others’ use of discretionary funds

Promotion – the ability to improve worker’s position

Money – the ability to increase a worker’s pay and benefits

Penalty – the project manager’s perceived ability to dispense or cause punishment

Work challenge – the ability to assign work that capitalizes on a worker’s enjoyment of doing particular task, which taps an intrinsic motivational factor

Expertise – the project manager’s perceived special knowledge that others deem important

Friendship – the ability to establish friendly personal relationship between the project manager and others.

It is also found out that project are likely to fail if the project managers relied too heavily on using authority, money or penalty to influence people (Schwalbe, 2007). However, if the managers use work challenge and their expertise to influence the people, the project were more likely to succeed.

Art Pretty (2009) in his e-book writes about why a Project Manager needs to develop their leadership skills in order to succeed. Leadership according to him is learned through practise and a leader must not be afraid to try it in their work environment. Pretty also touches on the term of “culture sensing” where the project manager must be able to quickly understand the how things happen or work within an organization. His e-book also highlights the importance of communicating effectively up and down the organizational ladder. This will help a Project Manager to successfully and effectively manage the whole project.

A project manager whom possesses leadership qualities will drive the project towards success is also emphasized in the article written by Ruffin Veal III (2004). Veal addresses four project management processes that can be used to promote success. The processes are creating an agenda, developing a team, execution of the agenda and evaluation of the outcome. He also clearly outlined the differences in terms of responsibility, function and activity between the management and leadership for each processes. This guidelines will definitely helps an individual appointed as the project manager to evaluate his/her own capability.

Team Work Theory

To achieve success within an organization, each individual must work as a team. By establishing an effective team, work can be done faster and with higher quality. A work team is identified by Hayward (1998) as a “group of people who have responsibility for completing a task or project, or reaching a particular goal”.

Bruce Tuckman in 1965 introduced a four stage model of team development which is forming, storming, norming, and performing. In the forming stage, members get to know each other and start to learn to work together. In the storming stage, there will be differences and conflicts reappear. The team will focus on managing the conflict in the norming period. The group will work together to accomplish the goals during the performing stage (DuBrin, Dalglish, & Miller, 2006). Based upon this four-stage model, various researches were undertaken and most of it confirms the model. Later, in 1977, the model was modified to include an additional stage which is called adjourning (Tuckman & Jensen, 1977). In this adjourning stage, the group which was created through the initial four stage model is dissolved.

Tudor Rickards and Susan Moger (2000) suggest that in terms of creating an innovative product or solution, the Tuckman model had no way of explaining what is regarded as outstanding creative performance. What is lack is the Creative Leadership which will enhance the team capabilities.

Parker (2008) suggests that there are four team player styles that are critical to the success of any team which are the contributors, collaborators, communicators and challengers. He also described in detail the 12 characteristics of an effective team and how each characteristic has been impacted by the changing team landscape. Characteristics of an Effective Team as described by Parker are:

1. Clear Purpose – The vision, mission, goal or task of the team has been defined and is now accepted by everyone. There is an action plan.

2. Informality – The climate tends to be informal, comfortable, and relaxed. There are no obvious tensions or signs of boredom.

3. Participation – There is much discussion and everyone is encouraged to participate.

4. Listening – The members use effective listening techniques such as questioning, paraphrasing, and summarizing to get out ideas.

5. Civilized Disagreement – There is disagreement, but the team is comfortable with this and shows no signs of avoiding, smoothing over, or suppressing conflict.

6. Consensus Decisions – For important decisions, the goal is substantial but not necessarily unanimous agreement through open discussion of everyone’s ideas, avoidance of formal voting, or easy compromises.

7. Open Communication – Team members feel free to express their feelings on the tasks as well as on the group’s operation. There are few hidden agendas. Communication takes place outside of meetings.

8. Clear Roles and Work Assignments – There are clear expectations about the roles played by each team member. When action is taken, clear assignments are made, accepted, and carried out. Work is fairly distributed among team members.

9. Shared Leadership – While the team has a formal leader, leadership functions shift from time to time depending upon the circumstances, the needs of the group, and the skills of the members. The formal leader models the appropriate behaviour and helps establish positive norms.

10. External Relations – The team spends time developing key outside relationships, mobilizing resources, and building credibility with important players in other parts of the organization.

11. Style Diversity – The team has a broad spectrum of team-player types including members who emphasize attention to task, goal setting, focus on process, and questions about how the team is functioning.

12. Self-Assessment – Periodically, the team stops to examine how well it is functioning and what may be interfering with its effectiveness.

Reflection on my peer’s Leadership

First of all it is hard to choose who in our group should be elected as the project manager. It is hard to make the appointment as all of us did not know each other well. However, in order to complete our task, we have to work as a team and therefore we must have someone to lead us. From my view point, a leader should be the one who must have trust and respect from the other group members.

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Based upon the Belbin’s Personality assessment conducted within the tutorial, we have agreed to elect the person who is categorized as a Coordinator to be the leader. We strongly believe that the leader should be a well organized person and is trustful.

As per described in by Belbin’s personality test, our group leader performs well in managing all the group activities and keeping track of all our documentation. He introduces www.zoho.com which is a website where we were able to collaborate and upload all our resources. He organizes the folder so that all the related materials are kept organized. All the documents edited or modified have to be versioned correctly so as to ensure that no one reads or retrieved the out dated ones. He encourages us to have our discussion via a web forum and thus reducing the need to make a phone call to each team members. This is being done to ensure that we are able to trace back whatever points that have been discussed prior to submitting the final product.

From my view, he is also very much influential in terms of motivating us to furnish the best ideas. We are able to come out with good ideas and suggestions with his direction. As our project manager has experience in broadcasting, he is able to share his knowledge on how things are done. His ability to communicate effectively in terms of the overall project requirement makes each and every team member understands what is expected out of them.

From my observation, our Project Manager employed a democratic leadership style where he’s the one who set the overall direction of our team. He also encourages us to participate actively in all the decision where we all have to vote for the best available option. Although the decision is group-based, he still has the full authority to have the final say. I really think this is good in our team as we are all able to raise our ideas and concerns. However, as everyone tend to speak out their ideas, not all ideas are work related and thus we waste much of our time arguing irrelevant ideas. This is I think the areas he lacks, controlling the individuals within the group. I would say that he sometimes have to assert his authority especially when things are out of control.

In terms of the completing the task, the project manager have outlined or broken up the tasks into several sections. This is done prior to the team meetings. Initially, he would ask each individual to which task they are comfortable to work with. This is to ensure that each team members knows their responsibility and thus can concentrate to the task at hand. Apart from dividing the task, each individual member is also assigned additional task which to check on another team member’s outcome. The evaluation or corrective task was delegated based upon the ability of the individual to read and write well in English. The project manager will then be the last person who will consolidate and check the overall output. Each task was also provided with separate timelines. The project manager put a very high priority on meeting the deadline set. If an individual is unable to meet the deadline, he will personally look into the individual’s assigned task and provides some solution on how to tackle the issue. This would in turn makes the individual somewhat felt embarrassed of his inability to meet the deadline and thus ensure that he/she won’t be making the same mistake again.

During our group meeting, I also noticed that our Project Manager’s leadership style or strategy changed from time to time. In the first few weeks, our Project Manager adopts a style where he is the one who have total control of all documentation, set the direction of the team and closely monitors our progress. This is somewhat in relation to the telling style as mentioned in the Situational Leadership Model by Hersy and Blanchard. At a later stage, the team leader use the selling style when each of us is individually assigned a task with the knowledge that we can have him clarified on how to do the task. At one stage, the project manager acts as the facilitator when every team members presented their ideas which are similar to the participating style suggested by the model. During the last stage, as each team members already knows what they are supposed to do, our Project Manager’s leadership style changes to the delegating style. By employing this style, each team member is able to propose their own ideas and at the end all present it to the team. By doing this, each member feels that they are fully responsible of their own work and in turn makes them feel important to the team.

Reflection on my Project Team’s Performance

In this section, I will discuss on the reflection of the team’s performance. In our initial meeting, we simply try to get to know each other and try to bond. Based upon the Tuckman’s Group Development Model, this phase is called forming. During this stage, everybody seems to carefully choose their words and try not to offend each other. Questions are asked based upon individuals experience especially in relation to their studies. There are also questions based upon the requirement of the project and what each members can contribute.

Once we got to know each other, we progress to the second phase in what is called the storming. Based upon the Tuckman’s model, this stage is when conflict emerges especially in the issue of who is to become the leader or project manager. However, as we are all able to think collectively and openly plus with the help from the tutor, we were able to stick as a team. During this stage, we are still unable to agree upon the meeting schedule as every team member is busy at work during the day.

As the day progress, we arrived to the next stage which is the norming stage where we were able to set the direction of the project team. We were able to understand each individual strength and weakness and try to work around it in order to achieve our goal. During this stage, we are more open to each other and argument is made for the sake of the project.

Once the overall team structure was set and agreed upon, we are able to think collectively and the group is ready and motivated to works towards the objective. This stage is described by Tuckman as the performing stage.

Based upon our initial group meeting, we have agreed that we will spend most of our time discussing issues on the forum, email or website. The meeting which was set up to be about two hours every Monday and the agenda will focus more on issues that cannot be resolved online.

After about 12 weeks working with the team, I can conclude that my team is an effective team based upon the 12 characteristic of an effective team specified by Parker (2008). We all have the clear purpose of the vision, goals and each individual understands and was able to finish their assigned task. Our meeting are conducted in an informal way where the environment is comfortable and relaxing. We were all able to listen, understand and argue each others’ ideas and if there was disagreement, we try to resolve it by compromising. Most importantly, every decision made was by a consensus decision.

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The way our group work was that each individual was assigned a task and required to upload the write up on the collaborative website. Once it is uploaded, each team member is required to check the other team member’s submission and write a comment on the forum. By providing the feedback online, it will help the team member to reply to the feedback at any time convenient for him/her. Another major advantage on posting the feedback on the forum was that each individual will have the time to really read and understand the posting. This will also help in gathering everyone opinion towards one particular issue where everyone had the opportunity to post a reply. By providing positive feedback toward each other’s work, it will reduce the conflict and create a more openness for the group.

In our group, we also have a diverse team player type which helps in getting the work done in time and of high quality. The diversity is required as it will produce a check and balance to each and every task performed by members. Questions will be asked if the submission is unclear or does not relate to the main task.

The fact that each individual team members work really hard to finish their task on time made the management of this group fairly easy. Each individual are prepared to help each other in trying to finish the project early before time. Some team members were also helpful in finding out resources although it was not within his/her job scope.

Based upon the action described above, we were able to finish the project on time. Although the draft version of the whole document was prepared a few weeks earlier, we were still not able to finalize it a few days before date of submission. This was due to the fact that we have to ensure that each individual write up is free from spelling and grammatical error. The reason was that our entire team member comes from Asian countries where English is our second language. We also have problem where the team member could not communicate well in English and it takes us a while to understand what they are trying to say. However, this does not hamper them from providing the best solution and with the other member’s help, they were able to communicate is clearly.

Another negative side of this team work is that we had to wait for reply as most of team member were busy with work during the day. It also frustrates the individual who posted his/her work earlier and have to wait for feedback. However, as the time progress, some team members especially the project manager was able to influence the whole team member to finish the job within the time frame with his excellent work ethic.

Conclusion

Today, in most organizations, team are set up to work together to identify and discuss solution to completing a task or project. Everyone in the team need support and direction from time to time. It is up to the project manager to lead the team. One’s leadership style and personality will affect the outcome of the team. Leadership style can be changed according to the status or situation of the team. In the beginning, the leader has to be somewhat autocratic as he has to set the team’s direction and ensure that each individual within the team knows the objective. Once the team have bond together, the leader should be more diplomatic and let all team members participate in the decision making. This is to ensure that each team member contributes and feel that they are a valuable asset to the team. The leader must be able to influence and encourage the team member to think out of the box.

The leader in our group applied some of the leadership style based upon the style mentioned in the literature review section. There are changes in his leadership style based upon the situation. At times he uses the autocratic style especially when the group is somewhat disorganized in the beginning. Later, when all team member starts to build trust with each other, he adopted the democratic style where all of us get to discuss on how to complete our task. It is also important to note that personality of the leader also plays an important factor to the success of the team. Our leader’s ability to organize the work really helps in supporting the team. His work ethic encourages each member to emulate this and in turn promotes them to work effectively. The leader also encourages us to make full use of the technology available on the Internet. He introduces us to the collaborative website where each member is able find and share resources easily.

For an effective team, every team member must have clear direction about the objective of the team. The team’s structure and communication setup will effect on the way members interact with each other. The most important aspect in having the team to work together is open communication and trust. Each team members must be able to participate freely in the decision making process. Although individually, each member has their own set of strength and weakness, the team must be able to use that to their advantage. In working together, each individual member should have the chance to choose which task suits them as this will contribute to the project’s success. Although there are conflicts during the decision making process, it can easily overcome as the team member discuss it openly. The leader also has the role in resolving this conflict by taking authority over the issue.

In our working team, I found that we are able to work as a team as there is trust and open communication between the five of us. We are able to discuss openly and informally on any issues in relating to the task. Each individual is assigned an appropriate work load and managed to deliver their task on time. Initially the task is not at the highest quality with lots of spelling and grammatical error, however the team work together to solve it. By using Skype, the team was able to communicate even late at night to get the work done. It is great to see that each individual was willing to work together via the Internet.

As a conclusion, leader plays an important factor that can influence and motivate a group in achieving its goals. A great leader should be able to change his leadership style based upon the situation or organization. However, having a good leader does not necessarily translate to an effective team. For a team to be able to work effectively, it must have a clear vision of its goals or objectives. Team members must be able to communicate effectively and openly with each other. Based upon my 12 week experience working together as a team, I can say that I have good leader within my team. With this team, we are able to effectively achieve our task.

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