Leadership and Teams
In this module, you learned about the value and challenges of team leadership.
Based on your organizational leadership experience and the information accumulated in this class:
- Identify three (3) possible dissertation research topics related to organizational leadership. Make sure your topics are current and relevant to the field.
- Discuss some of the leadership problems or opportunities that each of these three studies addresses.
- Offer specific suggestions for the leadership problems and/or opportunities. Support these suggestions with a rationale, research sources, and/or examples from your experience in teams/groups.
By the due date assigned, post your response to the appropriate Discussion Area. Through the end of the module, review and comment on at least two peers’ responses.
Write your initial response in 300–500 words. Your response should be thorough and address all components of the discussion question in detail, include citations of all sources, where needed, according to the APA Style, and demonstrate accurate spelling, grammar, and punctuation
Do the following when responding to your peers:
- Read your peers’ answers.
- Provide substantive comments by
- contributing new, relevant information from course readings, Web sites, or other sources;
- building on the remarks or questions of others; or
- sharing practical examples of key concepts from your professional or personal experiences
- Respond to feedback on your posting and provide feedback to other students on their ideas.
- Make sure your writing
- is clear, concise, and organized;
- demonstrates ethical scholarship in accurate representation and attribution of sources; and
- displays accurate spelling, grammar, and punctuation.
Module 6 Overview
This module explores the Team Leadership Approach and the Psychodynamic Approach to leadership. Many variables indicate team performance and effectiveness. Team Leadership approaches are designed to help organizational leaders better understand these variables. It emphasizes the analysis of group activities, relations, and dynamics to achieve common goals and objectives. The Psychodynamic Approach emphasizes the importance of leadership personality type and its impact on followers.In addition to these two theories of leadership, this module examines some approaches to knowledge creation and tries to determine the most effective approach. This module also analyzes theories of knowledge, including the Living System Theory of Organization, and introduces other views on knowledge creation.
The Team Leadership Approach was developed in the 1920s and early 1930s. The Hawthorne Studies, which examine in-depth experiences of a worker group under various conditions, helped develop the Team Leadership Approach. Researchers Levin and Moreland state that work groups or teams are usually a part of larger social systems, such as communities or the organizations they work in. These social systems influence group performance, which is in turn evaluated within the context of these social systems. McGrath, another leadership researcher, described teams as “partially nested” and “loosely coupled.” “Partially nested” means a situation where individuals are often members of more than one group and where groups may be parts of more than one social system. “Loosely coupled” means that there are few clear, mechanistic connections either between groups and surrounding systems or within groups. He also asserts that groups may perform multiple tasks concurrently within systems (McGrath, 1991).Some researchers argue that feelings of group identity, social support, and unity foster positive team dynamics. These research studies inspired many companies to group employees into effective work teams.Applebaum and Batt (1994), team leadership and organizational systems researchers, attempted to determine the significance of teams in different environments and came up with an interesting result. They found that teams are significant organizational components in Swedish socio-technical and Japanese lean-production organizational models, but that German and traditional American human resource models don’t consider teams to be significant (Applebaum & Blatt, 1994). However, recently American organizations have experimented with team-based work arrangements, and have found that they result in improved organizational performance and efficiency. Estimates in the 1990s revealed that 47% of large American companies made use of work teams, mostly quality-circle teams that contributed to a strong growth trend.ReferencesApplebaum, E., & Blatt, R. (1994). The New American Workplace. Ithaca, NY: ILR.McGrath, J. E. (1991). Time, interaction, and performance (TIP): A theory of groups. Small Group Research, 22(2), 147–174.
Team Leadership—Team Performance
Team and organizational effectiveness have a reciprocal relationship. This means that team effectiveness contributes to organizational effectiveness and vice-versa. Research has established that team performance improves greatly when organizations make positive simultaneous changes to organizational structure, human resource management practices, and technology.A leader’s task within organizational groups is to assist work teams to achieve organizational goals and to increase productivity. Effective leaders clearly define vision and mission, identify strategies, establish goals, deliver plans, provide direction for their followers, and extend socio-emotional support to their followers. Leaders must ensure that all the critical functions of task accomplishment and group maintenance are completed. They must also encourage the formation of autonomous work groups and introduce team development interventions such as increased employee involvement, job redesigns, changes in organizational hierarchies, and workflow process changes.Teams can wholeheartedly accept the team approach and effectively implement it. However, teams should get adequate time to have group meetings, and should always agree on action points. They should also demonstrate group processing skills and problem-solving expertise. Additionally, teams should take pride in their accomplishments and build confidence and transparency to help enhance team effectiveness.The team approach has some weaknesses, such as high administrator attrition because of marketability, difficulty in replacing team members, longer periods of training for team members, and lack of hierarchy.
The Psychodynamic Approach is based on the concept of personality types, where personality is defined as a person’s regular pattern of thinking, feeling, or responding. This approach looks at leadership from different perspectives and does not describe a single leadership theory. It is different from the Trait Approach, which states that a leader should possess certain traits to be effective. It also differs from the Situational Approach, which argues for matching leadership style to situations. The Psychodynamic Approach focuses on leaders and followers’ awareness of their own personality types.This approach operates with certain basic premises. One of them is that a person’s parents shape his or her basic ideas of leadership. Second is that a person’s life experiences shape his or her reactions to both leaders and situations.The roots of the Psychodynamic Approach are planted in Sigmund Freud’s psychoanalysis. Psychoanalysis argues that people are governed by their unconscious minds as well as their conscious desires. A person’s whole life history determines his or her unconscious thoughts. This makes individual personality almost impossible to change. Freud based his theories on clinical case studies, which ultimately make it difficult to generalize his observations to larger populations. The Psychodynamic Approach analyzes the history of a leader’s personality, beginning with an analysis of a leader’s family and upbringing.Erik Erikson, another psychologist, expanded upon Freud’s theories and emphasized the importance of growing throughout a lifetime. Erikson proposed that a person’s social experiences impact his or her personality. He argued that a sense of competence acts as behavioral motivation. According to Erikson, people experience conflict because of either developing a psychological quality, or failing to do so. For Erickson, conflict provides people with an opportunity for personal growth or failure. This helps explain the failure of some leaders and the success of others in a conflict situation.
Psychodynamic Approach—Theoretical Perspectives
Carl Jung, best known for his studies of the human psyche, dreams, and the collective unconscious, also researched psychodynamic behavior. Jung’s ideas about personality types and their possible combinations can help leaders get an insight into their own personality types and analyze how their personality types influence interaction with followers. Jung’s theories also provide clues about how leaders can deal with followers who have different personality types.Following Jung, another psychologist, Eric Berne, introduced Transactional Analysis (TA) in psychotherapy. Berne’s description of ego states (Parent, Child, and Adult) in TA renders a perspective on how individuals treat themselves and how they relate with others through transactions. TA also suggests how to enable personal growth through change and intervention. TA helps analyze interactions between the leader and followers and can lead to improved communication.Overall, the Psychodynamic Approach to leadership enables leaders to recognize their own and their followers’ psychological structures. It helps leaders understand the impact of family origin on an individual’s attitude, potential, behaviors, and responses to leadership. It provides clues about the followers’ maturity levels and the effect of leaders’ actions on followers’ responses. It brings to the surface the underlying factors of subordinate desires and motivation and helps leaders decipher the meaning of subordinates’ language, behaviors, and symbols. The approach helps leaders maintain the balance between dependence and independence in a group of followers. It allows leaders to analyze their psychological relations with subordinates and to appreciate their psychodynamic interplay with subordinates.The disadvantages of the Psychodynamic Approach are that it is based on the psychology of the abnormal; it overemphasizes personality types, fails to consider organizational factors, and makes leadership training impossible.
Team Leadership vs. Psychodynamic Approach
The differences between these two leadership theories lie more in the ways they suggest leadership is nurtured and can be discovered, rather than in the characteristics of leadership itself.Some researchers believe that leaders have character traits that set them apart from others, some believe that leaders emerge only when a situation calls for them, while others think that the team leadership style is the most effective style.While the Team Approach focuses on group interactions and relationships between group members, the Psychodynamic Approach centers on how a leader’s style is derived from his or her unconscious mind and behaviors. Both the approaches take into consideration relationships; however, the Team Approach looks at the impact of team member relationships and the Psychodynamic Approach considers the impact of influential relationships throughout individual growth and development.Both approaches do agree that leaders are people who exert influence on others. However, they differ in what they view to be the source of that influence, and how that influence makes leaders effective.
Knowledge Creation and Its Impact
Knowledge, innovation, productivity, and competitiveness are some of the major challenges that every organization has to face. As part of the paradigm for organizational behavior, the Living Systems Theory (LST) originated in the late 1940s and early 1950s from the work of three researchers—Wiener, Ashby, and von Bertalanffy. LST argues that the term “organization” applies to organisms as small as a cell as well as to supranational entities as large and complex as the earth (Lovelock, 1988). LST explains the impact of hierarchical structure on organizations. An organization’s control mechanisms within its hierarchy have a significant impact on its ability to respond to change and achieve its objectives.Organizational research has shown that market competitiveness demands that organizations continually respond to diverse and rapidly changing marketplaces, technologies, and environments. Research has suggested that to be successful, organizations need to integrate functions and processes through a collaborative learning process. This led to the development of the Knowledge Creation and Management theory in the 1990s. Incorporating the knowledge creation process into work environments enables leaders to improve competitiveness and respond to changes in markets, technology, and environments. Knowledge Creation theory argues that knowledge creation is critical for organizational success. According to the theory, there are two types of knowledge—tacit knowledge (senses, skills, and intuition) and explicit knowledge (formulated or captured). Knowledge creation is a five-step process, which includes (a) sharing tacit knowledge, (b) creating concepts, (c) justifying concepts, (d) building a prototype, and (e) cross-leveling knowledge.Nonaka, a knowledge creation researcher, designed one of the first knowledge creation models that used the five-step process. Nonaka’s research suggests that the interactions between individuals and between tacit and explicit knowledge are crucial for successful knowledge creation. These interactions create a work environment that continues to grow through the creation of new knowledge. According to Nonaka and Takeuchi (another knowledge creation expert) (1995), the three key processes of knowledge creation are emphasizing figurative language and symbolism, sharing personal knowledge with others, and creating new knowledge in the midst of ambiguity and redundancy. Organizations can use these key steps and the five-step process to guide their knowledge creations.ReferencesLovelock, J. E. (1988). The ages of Gaia. New York, NY: W.W. Norton and Company.Nonaka, I., & Takeuchi, H. (1995). The knowledge-creating company. New York, NY: Oxford University.
Knowledge Creation—The Learning Organization
Peter Senge, another knowledge creation expert, developed the concept of a “Learning Organization.” He argues that learning organizations have five core disciplines—a personal mastery of knowledge, the use of mental models, the acculturation of a shared vision, the imposition of team learning, and the use of systems thinking. Like Nonaka and Takeuchi, Senge contends that synthesizing individual efforts into team efforts through socialization and intrinsic knowledge externalization produces extraordinary benefits. However, Senge focuses on understanding an entire organization and its environment. This focus is particularly beneficial to large organizational hierarchies such as AT & T. According to Senge (1994), to become “learning organizations,” companies need to go through three stages. These stages are: the acquisition of new cognitive abilities by individuals, the internalization of new action rules, and the internalization of new values and assumptions.Peter Drucker, another well-known knowledge researcher, warns that world economy is undergoing drastic changes in the 21st century. He maintains that today’s organizations must also drastically change their structures and methods of operation to adapt to this change in the economy (Drucker, 1999). Drucker contends that the population growth rate in developed countries is rapidly declining. Furthermore, “knowledge workers” make up the majority of developed countries’ workforces. Following this trend, Drucker suggests that organizations will need to remain in close touch with their markets in order to sustain growth. He believes that “front line” knowledge workers will need to transfer their implicit knowledge to their organizations’ management.Studying successful organizations’ knowledge creation processes helps leaders understand how knowledge influences organizational success. Researchers Bennis and Biederman (1997) documented the success of six outstanding organizations—Disney, the Lockheed Skunk Works, Black Mountain College, the Manhattan Project, the 1992 Clinton Campaign, and Xerox PARC—in an effort to point out the value of “collaboration.” They argue that “None of us is as smart as all of us” (p. 1). This theme resonates with the teachings of Nonaka, Takeuchi, Senge, and Drucker.ReferencesBennis, W. G., & Biederman, P. W. (1997). Organizing genius: The secrets of creative collaboration. Boston, MA: Addison-Wesley.Drucker, P. F. (1999). Management challenges for the 21st century. New York, NY: HarperCollins.Senge, P. (1994). The fifth discipline fieldwork. London, UK: Century.
Module 6 Summary
In this module, you examined and compared the key aspects of the Team Leadership and Psychodynamic Approaches to leadership. This provided you with an opportunity to think strategically and comprehensively about leadership. It also helped you analyze how leadership skills impact vision, organizational effectiveness, and strategy.
Here are the key points you covered in this module:
- Team Leadership theories help leaders understand the variables that affect team effectiveness, including group activities, relations, and dynamics.
- Leaders implementing the Team Leadership Approach must define vision and mission, identify strategies, establish goals, deliver plans, translate direction to their followers, and provide their followers with socio-emotional support.
- A team’s responsibility is to accept the approach and implement it to the best of its ability, engage in group discussions, and take responsibility for achieving group and organizational goals.
- The Psychodynamic Approach to leadership emphasizes the importance of leadership personality type and its impact on followers. It helps leaders to recognize both their own and their followers’ psychological make-up, understand the transactions that occur between themselves and their followers, and to improve the quality of those transactions.
- Incorporating knowledge creation processes into work environments facilitates leaders to create competitive organizations that respond to changes in markets, technology, and environments.