PART 1: AN EXAMPLE OF SHARED TEAM LEADERSHIP
I think a project I’m working on right now in my Magazine Publishing class is a great example of shared team leadership. For our final project, we’re conceptualizing, designing, and producing an iPad application for the Vignelli Center at RIT. Everything from the content to the schedule to the project plan is up to my class, but we are required to have a product at the end that would be reasonable to build upon, even if it is not entirely completed.
Just so you get a better idea of what it is we’re actually doing, here are some preliminary drafts of our brand guide and a page of the app:
Everyone on my team shares an equal amount of responsibility for the project, and we make decisions in a very open-forum like matter. There are some people who are more vocal and tend to take control more often, but there is no one clear leader/manager. We all have our specialties and we are all competent and know what we’re doing, so we share the leadership amongst ourselves.
Taking that and putting it into the context of the conditions and characteristics of team effectiveness and excellence that can be found in the text, we have most of the conditions of group effectiveness and characteristics of team excellence that can be found on table 14.1, especially a clear, elevating goal; a results-driven structure; competent team members; external support; a compelling purpose; and a supportive organizational context.
PART 2: RESULTS OF TEAM LEADERSHIP QUESTIONNAIRE
I filled this out based on the team for the project that I described in part 1.
- Clear, elevating goal: 4
- Results-driven structure: 3
- Competent team members: 4
- Unified commitment: 3
- Collaborative climate: 3
- Standards of excellence: 2
- External support and recognition: 3
- Focus on the goal: 2
- Ensure collaborative climate: 4
- Build confidence: 4
- Set priorities: 1
- Manage performance: 2
PART 3: QUESTIONS
a. Do you agree or disagree with the results? Why?
It would be hard for me to disagree with the results because this was more of my evaluation of my team than an actual survey, so all the answers are my own and I by definition agree with them. I think it accurately reflects the way my team operates – sometimes our leadership gets muddled and confusing since we don’t have an appointed project lead, but we are all very competent and manage to get things done well regardless.
b. How does the knowledge of shared team leadership affect your definition of leadership, if at all?
I think team leadership is already reflected in my definition of leadership:
Leadership is when a person or group has the knowledge, skills, drive, adaptability, and vision to successfully take initiative, whether they choose to or have it thrust upon them, to inspire and empower each follower to develop their skills, grow, and work with the group to achieve a common goal.
However, I think the word “team” is more clear than the word “group,” so I’ll make another one-word change to my definition:
Leadership is when a person or team has the knowledge, skills, drive, adaptability, and vision to successfully take initiative, whether they choose to or have it thrust upon them, to inspire and empower each follower to develop their skills, grow, and work with the group to achieve a common goal.
c. How does the knowledge of team leadership affect the way you see yourself as a leader, if at all?
I think that, as long as there are others on the team who are the same amount of dedicated and motivated as I am, I would have no problem sharing leadership with my team. However, most of the time it feels as if everyone else takes a more laissez-faire approach to projects, so my type-A approach to leadership tends to take over everyone else’s leadership in the project in question. But, if someone on the team knows more about a certain area of the project, I will happily let them take the lead so that our product is the best it can be.
I guess what I’m trying to say is that under some circumstances I can participate really well in shared team leadership, and in others it is more difficult – but it doesn’t really make me see myself as any more or less of a leader. According to Pearce, Manz, and Sims (2009), shared leadership is not always an effective approach and “should only be considered for situations where the tasks of the people involved share a certain degree of interdependence.” I think, so far, I’ve been able to identify when it would work and when it wouldn’t work and proceed accordingly.
d. What team leadership characteristics do you need to display to be a better leader?
Kocolowski (2010) said that the primary success factors for team leadership are “decentralized interaction, collective task completion, reciprocal support and skill development, shared purpose, and a unified voice, all enhanced via social interaction that involves mutual accountability, partnership, equity, and ownership.” In order to be a effective team leader and facilitate these success factors, I believe that I need to improve my coaching and training skills, which Northouse says are an integral part of relational and task internal leadership decisions, respectively. Teaching/coaching is never something I’ve been great at and I’m not very patient, so I have a tendency to leave people behind who don’t already know what they’re doing or at least make a very active effort to learn, which would not be beneficial in a team leadership environment.