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Teamwork and Leadership: Approaches Essay

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Leaders which use the autocratic approach do not delegate responsibilities to the team members and prefer to stay in control over the business. (Malcolm Surridge, 2005, p. 181) Alternatively, paternalistic leaders are open to the opinions of their subordinates and allow for dialogue between people on the higher lever of hierarchy and the junior staff. However, the leader will still be the one who makes the main decisions. (Malcolm Surridge, 2005, p. 182) Leaders who use the democratic approach, however, tend to communicate with the employees down the hierarchy and consider their points of view.

They delegate responsibilities within the organisation allowing subordinates to actively participate in discussions of decision-making. This is motivational for employees given that they are well-trained and informed about aspects of the organisation in order to carry out their defined job. Despite the fact that leadership is one of the major keys to organisations’ success, strong teamwork is considered as well. There are various factors that employees are likely to have in order to create a well-operating team.

(Malcolm Surridge, 2005, p. 182)

Effective communication is one of the most significant skills a member obtains whilst working with others. Sometimes the targets that a team member sets to himself might overweigh the overall objective of the team which can be counter-productive. This is when active communication is required. Another possible approach is working as one without showing the dominance of a single personality. Being in a team also requires one to develop respect for others’ values and opinions. Stella Cottrell (2003, pp. 121-122) Likewise, motivation is the optimal approach to strong teamwork and excellent performance of team members.

A notable example of this is of an American psychologist Douglas McGregor who, in the early 1950s, established two theories which he named Theory Y and Theory X, describing the factors that motivate individuals within the organisation. It is believed that subordinates that refer to Theory X try to avoid work and responsibilities. These types of individuals call for supervision and are not the best types for teamwork. However, those which refer to the Theory Y are believed to be ambitious and tend to put effort and time into the production of the business.

These types of employees enjoy work and are therefore naturally open to interacting with others which involves, not only sharing their own ideas, but also accepting propositions from other team members. Individuals that refer to the Theory Y generally enjoy taking responsibilities which is more useful while dealing with arisen issues in the team. Ian Marcouse (2005, p. 235) Individuals experience shortcomings in working with others in positions of both team member and leader. There are various factors which cause unsuccessful leaders, failed teamwork, and bad decision making.

The challenges are often due to defective leader types, unsuccessful combination of people working together and other external factors. The main challenge in teamwork and leadership is personality. Some individuals have difficult personalities, and occasionally, dysfunctional personal attributes which cause destructive behavior. Such is the case with toxic leaders who misuse their position of power and leave a negative impact on their followers (Kusy, 2009 p. 4). Narcissists, control freaks or those with personality type A, and manipulators are all types of toxic leaders.

Working with, or under, these leaders disrupts the harmony within a team, and shifts the members’ objectives and values (Kusy, 2009 p. 4). Emotionally unstable team members can also limit group productivity by what is called the bad apple effect, whereby the unstable members spread their negative energies to the rest of the team. Furthermore, teams made up of one personality type present challenges. An anxious extrovert team, for instance, can show poor performance as all the members can be easily distracted (Management Teams, Belbin, 2010 p. 29).

The opposite composition of such a team can also lead to negative results, as with stable introvert teams, who are not perceptible to new important factors which could influence changes to their given project. Similarly, apollo teams, or teams constructed of members with high mental ability, struggle with decision-making and performing activities due to competition, focus on debate and demeaning others’ ideas in the face of their own (Management Teams, Belbin, 2010 p. 29). Therefore, the imbalance of power within team members can therefore be detrimental.

This is notable when groups of mixed genders work together, as women are known to receive less accreditation for their work and ideas cross-culturally (Management Teams, Belbin, 2010 pp. 15-19). A multicultural team can also yield negative results if they suffer from miscommunication or a lack of understanding of the others’ perspective and background (Gordon, 2002 p. 91). This is a result of a lack of self-awareness on each team member’s part. Lacking that awareness can also cause groupthink. This theory by Janis Irving states that teams are highly susceptible to mindless conformity when making decisions (Barash, 1999 p. 1). He states that critical thinking is waned, especially in cases where the members inadvertently comply with their leaders’ approach without a question. Decision-making within a team not only takes longer, but also results in more extreme decisions as team members feel they are not individually accountable for the consequences (Gordon, 2002 p. 189). Moreover, individual knowledge is ignored to reach a unanimous decision. A factor which can influence groupthink and affect levels of productivity is the size of the team.

Belbin has shown that the bigger the team, the more likely they are to be victims of groupthink (Management Teams, Belbin, 2010 p. 110). By the same token, although smaller teams are favourable, a three-man team can be counter-productive if a member is absent. These teams are especially vulnerable as they are dependent on how the personalities in the teams get on (Management Teams, Belbin, 2010 p. 116). Another factor to consider is that some people are not productive in teams as they think they work better on their own (Marcouse, 2005 p. 262).

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