Teamwork. The word glared at me ominously from the course reader and I faltered. What happens if I get put in a bad group? How is it going to be assessed? Is it going to affect my grades? What will the group dynamics be like? I am in my final semester of my undergrad and have avoided teamwork like the plague do I really have to take this paper? How on earth are they going to react to having an arts student on their team?
I have only ever met around three other people taking the same arts major as me which involves a combination of management papers and either sociology, anthropology or psychology. My dilemma was that I was slightly worried that I would be a hindrance on a team running a simulation such as Mikes Bikes because I have never studied any of the other business subjects. However, I took up the challenge and with the mantra ‘if at first you don’t succeed’ on repeat in my mind I was able to conquer SoloMike at the start of this week. As a result I was feeling a lot more confident about being put on a team as I felt I had justifiable knowledge of the simulation. However when it came to choosing a role, I became concerned once again. Although I may understand marketing in the simulation, I have never studied it, so would I be successful? Turning to the readings for some insight I noticed that in the Katzenbach and Smith (1992) reading they mention that it is useful for a team to have a range of complementary skills that bring various expertise and functional abilities. Although I agree with this comment, I have often heard teams falling apart because there was “too many chiefs and not enough Indians”, hence my journal’s title, meaning you need people willing to follow as well as lead. How successful this was going to be in a class full of managers I was doubtful, surely everyone doing management believes that have some leadership ability. Therefore I decided to reflect on my personality to work out what I could bring to a team in terms of expertise and functional skills, this would then hopefully translate to a suitable position that I could apply for on the executive team.
So what could I bring to a team? Reflecting on my tertiary studies, I have a strong understanding of management and being able to understand people in society. Personally I have often been in leadership roles and believe I have a natural ability to lead, but I have preferred to lay low at university. Looking at the readings I did not find too much information beyond a general description about teams, but repeatedly it was mentioned that having common goals is one of the most important aspects of a successful team (Katzenbach & Smith, 1992; Oakley, Felder, Brent, & Elhajj, 2004). I agree with this fully as I have had experience on teams where one person tries to take over in order to achieve their own goals, causing a lot of conflict. I wanted to be on a team that was open, honest and willing to talk to each other, rather than being perforated in awkward silences. It dawned on me that perhaps the only way to ensure that the team has this sort of dynamic is if I took an active role in influencing this dynamic, leadership is influence after all (Maxwell, 1993). So I took a leap of faith in my abilities and applied for CEO as my first choice, knowing that if we have the same common goal then I am likely to be successful as a leader. I decided that no matter how scared I was of the concept of teamwork, it is the best use of my skills as I lack specialist knowledge in many aspects of business. In addition the job description for the CEO role did fit what I thought I could bring to the team better than anything else. Since not many people applied, I found I was successful and although I had a lot of trepidation, I believe I have a really good group of people and I hope we will have a successful semester together.
Katzenbach, J. R., & Smith, D. K. (1992). Why teams matter. [Article]. McKinsey Quarterly(3), 3-27.
Maxwell, J. C. (1993). Developing the leader within you: Thomas Nelson Inc.
Oakley, B., Felder, R. M., Brent, R., & Elhajj, I. (2004). Turning student groups into effective teams. Journal of student centered learning, 2(1), 9-34.