Do you make these 3 team leading mistakes?
[6 min read]
Learn how to build a strong, successful and well-balanced team.
We are part of teams at nearly every point in our life; at work, at home, in social organisations, in sports clubs, in church communities – the list is endless. These team members interact with each other, are aware of one another, have a common objective and goal, and perceive themselves to be a group.
“Nothing truly valuable can be achieved except by the unselfish cooperation of many individuals.” ~ Albert Einstein
Being part of a group can be nurturing, supportive, and positive for the individual members. It is after all our tendency and quite possibly the single most important characteristic of humans to join with others in groups.
This article covers three important aspects of leading a team that if left overlooked will negatively impact the organisational culture, the success of projects, and employees who can feel depleted, discouraged and judged.
Mistake #1: Discounting group dynamics
Group dynamics play a significant role within any organisation, family, culture, or community. It is vital to remember that all of them are made up of people - people with different ideas, motivations, upbringing, and sometimes intentions. Most groups look for a leader in an effort to maintain connection within. Sometimes, that bond between group members must be developed, and once developed, it must be nurtured.
Positive dynamic within a group is easy to spot; the members trust each another, work towards a united decision, and hold each other accountable for making things happen. The book “How to Have a Good Day: Harness the Power of Behavioral Science to Transform Your Working Life”, by Caroline Webb talk about research having found that when a team has a positive dynamic, its members are nearly twice as creative as an average group.
Understanding how groups interact and what might cause problems in a group can help us to improve group performance, communication and cohesiveness.
So, how can you influence the dynamics of groups you are a member of? The following story from author Dan Pearce provides insights into why group dynamics are so important for the individual team members.
“People usually live up to their expectations. The kid picked first for dodgeball feels a duty to be the best, and to perform the best, and to be better than anyone else. They feel a need to execute. And, the only way they are going to achieve that is to make their body run faster, jump higher, and move quicker. If more fat kids were chosen first for activities and sports and group/team dynamics, they would automatically start to change their lives to fit into the expectations that surround those moments. Any time a child is picked last, they know it’s because people expect the least of them, and so they never actually have a need to rise above that.”
Following are a few reasons why positive group dynamics are essential for any group or team:
- A group can influence the thinking of its members, and positive interactions will positively influence the individuals
- Groups with good leaders perform better than groups with weak leaders
- It will give job satisfaction to its members
- The cooperation of a connected group will result in maximisation of productivity
- Negative thinkers will be converted to positive thinkers
- The effect of synergy of positive thinkers is more than double every time (1 + 1 ≥ 3)
- Emotional attachment within the group members reduces staff turnover
How teams operate and how they view themselves and their organisation are too important to leave to chance. Success or failure of groups or teams depends on a number of factors like: member resources (knowledge, abilities, skills, personality characteristics), group structures (group size, roles, norms, bonding) and group processes (communication, decision making, conflict management, leadership).
Mistake #2: Forgetting where your team is at
The most common framework for how groups are formed was developed by Bruce Tuckman in the 1960s. In short, his framework implies that groups do not perform at maximum effectiveness when they are first established. There are five stages of development to become productive and effective. Many teams experience the same development stages with strikingly similar conflicts and resolutions
The 5 phases which groups pass through are:
- Characterised by some confusion and uncertainty
- Major goals have not yet been established
- Leadership has not been determined
- Members get to know each other and share expectations
- Trust and openness must be developed; therefore, this stage should not be rushed
- Characterised by highest level of disagreement and conflict of all the phases
- Members challenge group goals, struggle for power and strive for the leadership position
- Members voice concern and criticism
- Can be a positive experience if cohesiveness is achieved through resolution
- If members are unable to resolve the conflict, the group is likely to separate, or will remain but be ineffective and remain in this phase
- Characterised by recognition of individual differences and shared expectations
- Members begin to develop a feeling of team unity and identity
- Cooperative effort begins to yield results
- Responsibilities are divided among members
- Group decides how it will evaluate progress
- Characterised by the maturity of the group and feeling of cohesiveness amongst members
- Members accept each other, conflict is resolved through team discussions
- Each member makes contributions, and the authority figure is also seen as part of the group
- Decisions are made through a rational process, focusing on relevant goals rather than emotional issues
- Characterised by the disbandment of the group, and therefore not experienced by all groups
- Reasons for this phase can include accomplishment of the task, decision for group members to go their own way, relocations, and many other
- Group members often experience feelings of closure and sadness as they prepare to leave
These stages of group development are indicative; often groups do not clearly proceed from one stage to the next. In reality, several stages may go on simultaneously; the leader must stay in control to steer the team in the right direction and pre-empt problems early.
Mistake #3: Ignoring different team roles
Following are the four main archetypes, or in other words ‘roles’, that people will play in the team. Every role is necessary for a well performing team and to meet deadlines, deliver projects and successfully achieve goals.
…is directing the group with a clear and inspirational vision. They are excellent with the big picture but might overlook some practical constraints. Visionaries are often very creative and innovative.
Character traits are:
- Lead and facilitate
- Inspirational and open minded
- Clear vision
- Creative & innovative
- Be quick, be flexible
…is putting every effort into the planning and process. They are excellent with critical thinking, weighing up facts, carefully consider pros and cons and managing risks. Architects are often highly motivated and a great necessity for achieving an outcome.
Character traits are:
- Master the schedule
- Get organised
- Technical focus
- Manage risk
- Critical thinking
…is the doer and great with details and specifics. They are focused and excellent in getting things done. Dynamos are often hard working and conscientious, pick up loose ends and work best alone.
Character traits are:
- Productive – Gets the job done
- Hands on – operational
…is focusing on the groups objectives and is maintaining the smooth running of the group. They put the community interests before their own personal ambitions. Collaborators are often good communicators, trusting, caring and sensitive to other people’s needs.
Character traits are:
- Great communicator
- Trust team’s capability
- Listen and teach
- Team focused
- Emotional intelligence
Different people have different skills that can contribute to ta common purpose or goal. We need to remember that a team of 4 people is more effective than 4 individuals working alone.
“The most valuable resource that we all have is each other. Without collaboration our growth is limited to our own perspectives.” ~ Robert John Meehan
Effective teams can:
- Utilise individual strengths and resources
- Solve challenges by brainstorming different perspectives
- Create a sense of purpose, belonging and achievement
- Tackle bigger and more complex challenges
Quantum physics teaches us the rules of Mother Nature and that interdependence rules our planet. Everything is perfectly balanced, and every plant and animal has a purpose (even though it doesn’t always appear that way). Just like a doughnut, there is no hole without the doughnut but there is also no doughnut without the hole.
Now, that we acquired in-depth knowledge about formal structure of groups and the phases they go through, the culprits when it comes to group dynamics, and the different roles we should have represented to strengthen and balance our team, we should strive for the ultimate paradigm of effective teamwork:
- We take care of each other
- We can do it
- We share our combined knowledge, skills and positive attitude to create something bigger
- (1 + 1 ≥ 3)
“Dare to make a difference!”
PS: Find more insights into building a successful team in our blog post “How to get your team in good shape”.
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