So the first week is going and the teamwork has started! The issue of conflict was a big one leading into the formation of the teams, acting somewhat as a caution for teams to be wary about. Our team has already faced great debate in this first week; deciding on a team name… But In all seriousness, the week has gone smoothly. The assimilation into the group environment was easy for everyone due to the alignment of goals for all members, and there appear to be not even the faintest signs of potential conflict at this point in time.
So far all of our decisions have been decided upon very democratically, with the concurrence and understanding of each team member taken into account. Obviously this is not a wholly determining process and can’t be read into too much due to the fact that it is relatively early in the simulation but it did have me thinking about one point in particular. The readings for the week discussed leadership, this is something that has not clearly stood out so far in our group. This by no means appears to be a negative point however, as all of our members seem to bring a range of expertise and experience in different facets which can aid us in the simulation. We do not have a clear cut leader necessarily, but everyone seems to exhibit leadership traits in one way or another through the week. Collins (2001) however seems to suggest that a truly successful team is not possible without the presence of a stand out, obviously capable leader. Upon finishing this reading I found myself disagreeing with some of the theory but understanding the reasoning behind the idea that leadership is necessary. I have even learnt in previous management courses, 211 I believe, that ‘followers’ can be viewed as being more important than leaders. This would seem to be more in line with what the Kelley (1988) discusses. I would not say either however that our group is composed of follower, which seems to be the obvious case because followers are simply the by-product of leadership.
My experiences and beliefs of what makes successful leadership/ following perhaps lies somewhere between the two aforementioned theories. So far this week our team has been more than successful without a clear cut leader, which coincides with the fact that we are not composed of followers either. It has been our contribution as a group that has made the group function so effectively, everyone chipping in where they can and focusing on what each member can do well. This really reminds me of what I discussed in my journal last week. Specifically, what constitutes a good ‘team’, as opposed to ‘just a collection of people’ (Katzenbach and Smith, 1992). I would say that we have a successful team in this regards - So far at least, in this very early stage of the assignment. And this would seemingly be in spite of the leadership/ follower balance; the reason why our team feels successful so far is because we work together in a democratic, delegate way.
I must admit, I feel like I might be getting way too ahead of myself in terms of how successful our group is going to be. I hope I am not getting too ahead of myself by saying that our seemingly ‘flat’ structure is going to be the keys to our success. However, based on my previous experiences in teamwork of this nature, and early signs of smooth sailing operations, I feel as if I have reason to be optimistic.
Collins, J. C. (2005). Level 5 leadership: the triumph of humility and fierce resolve. Harvard Business Review, 83(7/8), 136–146
Katzenbach, J. R. & Smith, D. K. (1992). Why teams matter. McKinsey Quarterly, (3), 3-27
Kelley, R. E. (1988). In Praise of Followers. Harvard Business Review, 66(6), 142-148.