In an increasingly knowledge intensive world, the most competent leader could be staring at the face of failure if the team that is led fails to measure up to the leader’s objectives and get derailed.
Poor leadership cannot pull a motivated team to Journal of IT and Economic Development 4(2) 1-18, October 2013 2 success; similarly,strong leadership cannot hope to achieve success with an incompetent and unmotivated team. A team can be defined simply as a group of individuals united in pursuit of a common mission or goal, often sacrificing personal agendas for the sake of team accomplishment.Such teams develop high team dynamics and a strong track record, while enhancing their own professional development.
Building teams, managing conflict, leading positive change, Journal of IT and Economic Development 4(2)-1- 18, October 2013 5 empowering and delegating, and creative problem-solving-all these are critical concurrent activities for effective team dynamics. The leader should strive to understand the culture of each team and find ways to strengthen the natural dynamics of that team and each of its members. In sports, the difference between a successful team and an unsuccessful team is leadership. Transactional leaders set the stage for positive results that are achieved by communicating the strategic goals, which are equally matched with the team’s talents and capabilities. The project leader reinforces to the team that “High performance is linked to valued rewards, which leads to satisfaction.” Organic leadership enables greater interaction among team members, and greatly strengthens the working relationships among the team members. Contemporary leaders are essentially democratic inn their approach, and use influence and persuasion rather than fear to lead the team. The contemporary leader utilizes structure to guide the team effectively to meet the organization’s strategic objectives and stakeholder expectations.
Ethical leaders inspire respect by setting a fine example of integrity for team members and stakeholders.As a result, these styles balance the personalities, capabilities, and needs of theproject leader and the team members. Teams require continuous nurturing and interaction to maintain high performance throughout their temporary lives. Leadership must now concentrate on motivating and supporting teams using tools that were not previously considered, but have become crucial in a globalizing environment.
In order for a team to be attuned to success, a combination of attributes are required that include: clear objectives; shared leadership; clear roles and responsibilities; interdependent members; mutual encouragement; and, trust between the leader and the team. Whetton & Cameron point out a few factors that Journal of IT and Economic Development 4(2), 1-18, October 2013 9 contribute toward effective team performance. These are: a heterogeneous team composition; increasing familiarity among project team members; team motivation which sharpens competence; team goals and overall feedback; cohesion among team members; and, decision-making processes within the team. Two main skills associated with a successful team are: playing advantageous roles, and providing feedback to others. Advantageous roles such as that of task-facilitating enhance performance of a team through direction-giving, urging, and summarizing; and, they influence the behaviors of team members to facilitate task accomplishment and group cohesion. Focusing feedback on the behavior-rather than on the person-is one way team members provide effective feedback to build positive relationships, rather than destroy team unity.
Successful team development comes through a progression of stages: forming, norming, storming, and, performing. Teams must progress systematically through the first three stages in order to effectively advance to the fourth stage of performing. There are bound to be some overlaps between successive stages-and the time taken by each team to transcend each stage will vary. Developing a successful team requires great diligence and awareness on the part of the leader- because it is as much an art as it is a science. A strong team recognizes that team members are dependent on each other for success, and that they have to work in unison to overcome adversity.
A high performing team with the right capabilities but the wrong leadership can jeopardize success.Therefore, the successful leader who engenders success needs to consistently lead a team with sensitivity, competence, and wisdom towards successful outcomes. Team leaders need to recognize that for some, the prestige of being in a productive team may be sufficient motivation. Involving team members in the creation of the team’s vision statement can help to achieve buy-in and benefits from the perspective and experience of the team members who will be charged with accomplishing the tasks necessary for success. Communication plays such a critical role in the development of a team that it is important to nurture it from the very inception of team formation. The leader needs to mediate those early meetings to ensure that team members are effectively communicating during team formation. Conflict is a naturally occurring process that is displayed within healthy teams and is necessary for the dynamics of team success.
Strong leaders who empower and mentor team members know their own strengths and weaknesses, and also those of the team members. The team starts as a group of strangers and needs to be synergized into a high performing team. During the initial ‘forming’ stage, team members are polite and team roles are less clear; during this stage, team members rely on leadership to establish boundaries and explain expectations.
Tapping into the best that a team can yield toward a relentless pursuit of organizational success requires greater emphasis on the ‘soft’ skills of leadership than hitherto acknowledged. Leaders need to be continually evaluating their: leadership styles and perceptions; understanding of different cultures; individual and team motivations; interpersonal skills; levels of creativity; ability to manage change; communication style; listening ability; decision-making skills; and, personal ethics. A leader must marshal appropriate skills and tasks to successfully build teams, accomplish goals, and avoid pitfalls.