The modern world has changed and is changing very quickly in an economic, political and technological sense. These changes have presented many organizations with new and imposing problems to solve. Many organizations now find themselves in the position where they must constantly innovate and adapt in order to survive. One interesting and prominent adaptation which organizations have pursued, has involved a switch of attention from the individual perspective, to the team perspective. Team development is now a critical skill for managers or aspiring managers.
As part of this team perspective, organizations now see team efforts as being of critical importance towards achieving a high organizational performance. Therefore, the aptitude for leading high performance teams will be expected of managers in the modern organization. So how does a manager lead a high performance team? To start this explanation, the team can be thought of as a group. And groups usually form for a particular purpose. In order for the group to meet and achieve that purpose, the group will have to transition through a development process. This process can be broken down into four phases. What is important to note here, is that each phase will require the manager to perform a different combination of leadership actions.
Leaders can either exhibit directive behaviours, or supportive behaviours. When leaders act directive, they do things such as; start discussions, provide direction, set up goals, and impose an agenda. When leaders act supportively, they do things such as; listen, develop relationships, promote participation, and recognize contributions. In addition to the manager, the team can also exhibit these behaviours. The key to understanding the group development process, is to recognize at what point along this process the group is at, and then to know what actions to take at the different points along the process. It is important to know when to be supportive, and when to be directive. Also, it is important to know when the team is ready and can be allowed to take on more supportive and directive behaviours.
To sum up the team development process, four steps will be described. First, the leader needs to exhibit both directive and supportive behaviours. At this step, the team will not know what to do. The team will have little knowledge of how to work together and this means that they will need a lot of guidance from the leader. On the positive side, the team members will have a lot of enthusiasm and will show commitment. Second, as the team works through the initial stages of the problem, the size and scope of the challenge will become more apparent. There will be a realization that the task is more difficult than originally thought. This will impact the confidence of the team, and could lead to struggles in both the collaboration aspect, and with the tasks required as well. The team has not yet figured out the right behaviours necessary, so the leader will still need to provide directive and supportive behaviours. At the third step, some of the problem will be solved, and some of the challenges will be resolved. This will improve the team’s confidence, as well as their trust in the endeavour and the commitment to success. At this step, the leader will no longer need to provide directive behaviours, but will still need to provide supportive behaviours. The supportive behaviours are still required because the confidence of the team will still need improvement. Fourth, the team should have all of the necessary knowledge required for project completion, and as a result, the level of confidence should be excellent. By this point, the work should progress with speed and efficiency. The leader can then remove themselves from interfering with the progress, and allow the team to do their work.
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