This week was quite an interesting experience. The true colors of my team have begun to emerge as we achieved a generally successful MikesBikes experiment. With our team consisting of very intelligent and driven individuals of who appear to be accustomed to taking a leadership role (including myself) in most other university teams, a very interesting team dynamic has emerged.
I notice that this is the first team project at university that I have not just valued the opinions of my team members, but I have highly valued their opinion. An absence of natural followers and instead a group of ‘leaders’ has not necessarily created conflicts, however is has created clear inefficiencies as our group as we come together and naturally attempt to impart our own wisdom and vision on the rest of our group. Each individual has their own clear version of the right vision to follow and there is a need for someone with the ability to align these leading strategies. With two hour long meetings accomplishing minimal results, our team is a clear example of how “groups with many leaders can be chaos” (Kelley, 1988). The importance of having great followers is clear to me now and it is only after contrasting this with my previous university group experiences, that I realize its importance. It is not until being placed into a group of five would-be ‘CEO’s’ that I see how I have taken for granted great followers in the past. As we see in ‘Leadership Run Amok’ (Spreier, Fontaine & Malloy, 2006), individuals have different reasons to strive toward success be it achievement, affiliation of power incentives. With these different motivators of success we will therefore see multiple strategies. With this, it will be interesting to see the developments the in how our group of leaders manage conflicts of the right vision to back.
With a team that was formed under a synergy of our competitive nature, people are surprisingly similar. And I suppose this “sameness” is reflected in the way we think, which we are yet to see if it is a hindrance. Although we have an aligned competitive natures, our personal assumptions of our own leadership abilities have shown that with what initially seemed like a diverse team, there is a serious potential that a lack both ‘diversity of thought’ and ability to be great followers under a combined vision, that may hinder us. So although we are all capable, confident and competitive, the emergence of conflicting leadership styles, as outlined by Spreier, Fontaine & Malloy (2006), has outlined the chaos of not having a unified vision.
Although I have a tendency to get excited and try to impart my vision on others, it appears that this is not a scenario where that would be well received. So alternately, I feel a need to adopt the traits of a ‘Level five leader’ (Collins, 2005) in an attempt to combine several subtly different visions in order to minimize conflicts, align our competitive strategies and reducing inefficiencies and indecision with the purpose of creating a high performing team. Although I don’t know if my assessment of our team situation is accurate, in the coming week I plan to foster the level five leadership trait of humility in an attempt to ‘facilitate greatness’ as opposed to leading.
Collins, J. C. (2005). Level 5 leadership- the triumph of humility and fierce resolve. Harvard Business Review, 83(7/8), 136—146
Kelley, R. E. (1988). In praise of followers. Harvard Business Review, 66(6), 142—148
Spreier, S. W., Fontaine, M. H., & Malloy, R. L. (2006). Leadership run amok. Harvard Business Review, 84(6), 72--82