Leadership and Team Development

A great deal of research has been published on leadership and team development. Even though most of this research is purely academic and has been performed in a research environment rather than in the workplace, some of it does contain value for a working manager.

In particular, there have been two studies that you should be familiar with: Bruce Tuckman’s ‘Stages for a Group’ and Richard Hackman’s ‘Five Factor Model.’ This Team Development eBook describes both of these in detail and explains how they can help you with practical day-to-day team building and team management.

Bruce Tuckman’s ‘Stages for a Group’ Theory was first proposed by Bruce Tuckman in 1965, who maintained that these phases are all necessary and inevitable in order for the team to grow, to face up to challenges, to tackle problems, to find solutions, to plan work, and to deliver results.

Richard Hackman’s ‘Five Factor Model’ is a research-based model for designing and managing work groups. His research looked at why some groups were successful and what it was that made them so.

Team development and leadership style

Team Development

How one defines a team varies according to the context one is referring to, but it is useful to look at three widely accepted definitions:

  • ‘[A team is a] group in which members work together intensively to achieve a common group goal.’ (Lewis-McClear & Taylor, 1998)
  • ‘A team is a small number of people with complementary skills who are committed to a common purpose, performance goals, and approach for which they are mutually accountable.’ (Katzenbach & Smith, 1993)
  • ‘[A team is made up of people] working together in a committed way to achieve a common goal or mission. The work is interdependent and team members share responsibility and hold themselves accountable for attaining the results.’ (MIT Information Services and Technology, 2007)

The common thread in each of these definitions is that teams consist of a group of people who share a common understanding of their goal and work together to accomplish it.

Leadership Styles

The best leadership style for any particular team will be influenced by its purpose and composition. This eBook provides a practical guide to understanding leadership and team development in order to help you with practical day-to-day team building.

The most important aspect of being a leader is deciding how much freedom to give your team. Too much, and they may not achieve their targets. Too little, and you will restrict their personal development and job satisfaction. The practical leadership styles for team development are: Transactional Leadership, Transformational Leadership, and Situational Leadership.

Transactional Leadership Style – The power of transactional leaders comes from their formal authority and level of responsibility within the organization. Such leaders are primarily concerned with establishing the criteria for rewarding team members for good performance.

Transformational Leadership Style – These leaders offer a role model that inspires, interests, and challenges their followers to take greater ownership for their work. A transformational leader understands the strengths and weaknesses of each follower and assigns tasks that enhance each individual’s performance.

Situational Leadership Style – The Situational Leadership® model states that there is no single style of leadership that is effective in all circumstances and that you should alter your leadership style to suit the ability and motivation of the team to do the task.

It is not always obvious which particular leadership style is the most appropriate and the best approach is to consider each case on its merits with a clear appreciation of the risks involved of giving too much autonomy.

Developing Your Own Leadership Style

You need to be aware of your own innate leadership qualities and understand which of the four leadership styles you prefer. Armed with this knowledge you can then add this to the skills and abilities you possess to perform your role.

Do you know where on the leadership continuum you spend most of your time? Once you have identified the style of leadership you use most of the time you can make sure that your communications match these needs.

Leadership communications

The level of authority and direction required from yourself for the numerous tasks you must accomplish each day varies considerably. At one end of the spectrum you need to tell your team what to do and at the other end you can delegate the complete task.

The Leadership Continuum described by Tannenbaum and offers a continuum of potential ways a manager can behave along which many leadership styles are placed. This offers you great flexibility in selecting the style of leaderships that best suits the different circumstances you encounter every day at work.

Your Personality  
It is no surprise that your style of leadership is influenced by your own values, experience and knowledge. Some people are happy to instruct others what to do, some prefer to persuade or facilitate activities and others are able to truly delegate.

Add your work environment to these influences and you natural style of leadership may be incongruous or ineffectual. There are four styles along the continuum – Tells, Sells, Consults & Delegates.

To be a good manager you need to make an honest assessment of your personality. One of the most effective ways to do this is to assess your level of emotional intelligence using our free checklists.

The more you understand your own and others emotions in any situation the better you are able to manage yourself and the relationships you encounter in your daily activities.

The greater your degree of emotional intelligence the more adaptive your leadership style becomes.

Your Team’s composition  
Leadership relies on two-way communication and good leaders know themselves and the other party of the communication well. This knowledge enables them to anticipate reactions to issues and to adapt how they communicate the message to ensure that your objective is achieved.

Knowing the level of skills and knowledge of the individuals in your team, along with their personal attitudes towards their role and the organization is an essential aspect of leadership.

The continuum offers you a range of actions and styles that in partnership with your knowledge of your team allows you to select the style that gives you the correct degree of authority that correlates to the amount of freedom available to your members in arriving at decisions.

Your Environment 
Whilst you have a degree of control over the first two influences on your leadership style, this is not the case for the third element, your environment. There are three elements that influence your environment.

The first is the organization itself. Each industry or market has its own characteristics that help to form its values and beliefs. Successful leaders adapt their natural style so that it emulates that of the organization.

The second element is the nature of the problem you face, and finally what sort of timescales do you have in which to resolve this problem. According to the continuum theory, as leaders learn to recognize and portray the most appropriate behavior for the situation they become more successful.

As a manager you are expected to actively develop your leadership skills and to know how to adapt them to best accomplish the task at hand. Experience and awareness of the three influences on your leadership style will enable you give the right level of freedom to your team having taken into account the risks involved. To view the free online library resources for leadership click the button below.

Key Points

  • Tuckman’s four-stage model states that the ideal group decision-making process should occur in four stages:forming, storming, norming, and performing.
  • You can use this four-stage model to assist you in clearly identifying the group dynamics of your team.
  • Focus your time on managing the aspects of team building you can affect and work within the constraints you have to accept.
  • Ensure your team knows how success is going to be measured.
  • Your team members will reflect your own behaviors.
  • Demonstrate that you value all contributions made by team members.
  • Ensure that you recognize and reward group success as well as that of the individual member.

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