Leading Teams to Become Effective

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Motivation and inspiration of a team and its effectiveness are extremely difficult and serious processes of teamwork and management. Sometimes, fail to motivate people is the main reason of slow work, poor quality, aggressive relationships, or psychological destruction of a team. An effective solution has to be worked out because a team should avoid any conflicts based on poor management and lack of motivation. Increasing the level of the teamwork effectiveness demands huge responsibility, knowledge in different spheres, and rich life-experience not only of a leader but also of every team member. The review of some descriptions and explanations of this process can give a clear picture of how to create a motivated team. The paper considers some tips and techniques to be applied in building an effective teamwork and designing a steady way of constant motivation. Articles on successful leadership used for this paper explain how to build and keep a team organization on high levels and what strategies can be employed to create job well-being in a team. The paper considers the main features of a leader, his duties, and influence on a team. It also describes methods of addressing the problem of low motivation.

Who Is a Leader?

In any group of people, there is always a person who operates all group activities. In this way, topics, interests, and actions of the group are controlled by one person and everything is focused around him/ her or goals he/she defines. As a rule, such an individual is considered a leader. This person leads the group to the common aim. Such individual is a real role model and usually acts like an alpha male in a pack of wolves or pride of lions. The main job of the leader is taking care of the group members, motivating them, and setting tasks that need to be done.

Leroy Eims (1975, p.16) asserted, “A leader is one who sees more than others see, who sees farther than others see, and who sees before others see.” This saying demonstrates three main features that a leader should have. In fact, “seeing more,” “seeing farther,” and “seeing before” are features that create a true leader, who organizes people around, directs them to a goal, and is able to be a success story. One says that only the born leader can and should lead the team. On the other hand, the life story of Demosthenes and his way to becoming one of the greatest orators not only in Ancient Greece but all over the world of all times proves the opposite. The man suffered from a terrible pronunciation, and people made fun of this peculiarity. Practice in delivery made him one of the incredibly significant man of his time. He used his willpower to gain such a position. This story of success is a perfect example that everyone can be a leader. To reach the goal, one should train personal qualities: not only methods of team management or cooperation but also critical and leader thinking.

There are some features that distinguish the leader out of the crowd. A true leader is always assured in his/her own power, but it is rather a distinctly and logically reasonable position than a despotic willfulness. This person clearly knows what he wants and creates the way to reach the aim by using all possible tools and techniques within reasonable bounds. Self-awareness helps a lot. Other features that can be distinguished are psychic stability and steadfastness that ensure optimistic view in any situation. This attitude in turn encourages the leader to make regular tries to reach the aim. Accuracy and concreteness predominate in the leader’s life and create a perfect background for success. Flexibility helps such an individual adapt to the changes of any kind; it is a vital feature in this ever-changing world and it helps the person do his best in any situation. If a team has a powerful leader, it will be motivated every time without a slack. A leader can use some secrets of communication with his team that can be used as a method to inspire and motivate, for example, active listening. It is all about showing care and understanding; these personal qualities help in building a strong team of close members (Grace, 2012).

All these qualities of a leader help identify the best way to solve problems if there are any. They provide a person with ultimate control and power over the people around and allow them to perform the task correctly and in time. Leader knows how to manage all the barriers existing before him and his team in a project; he knows how to set the work priorities to have the best results in the end. One can think that it is rather easy to become a leader; nevertheless, it is the opposite. It requires a responsibility of every person for everything he/ she does, for every detail and problem; actually, the leader should know everything. To say metaphorically, a leader is an overseeing eye; he takes and directs all the chaotic energy of his subordinates and directs it to something useful for reaching the goal.

Laws of Motivation

Nowadays, there are many theories in psychology about people’s motivation that can be easily applied in management. The task here is to study and explain this question and find out the way to motivate and increase the effectiveness of a team. Someone who feels no inspiration and power to do some work is called an unmotivated person; on the other hand, someone who is eager to go forward is called a motivated individual (Webb, 2013). It is not so difficult to work with one person and make him/ her feel motivated; in case of a group of people, the situation is different. Some additional aspects can appear and become a serious problem. Motivation is an inner feeling of wanting to do something. When there is a team, there should be someone, who manages it, controls all situations and activities, and leads it to the aim. High-performance team does not appear from scratch, but it is developed and nurtured (Andrews, 2013). Autocratic efforts of a leader cannot create a high-performance team; only combined efforts of a leader and every team member are crucial. A leader here performs a role of an inspirer. Differences and disagreements among team members are inevitable; consequently, learning people’s behaviors is the best strategy. It helps the team work even if there are any conflicts, and maintains respectful relationships. In addition, a leader must be the best worker as his duty is to be an example of a perfect worker.

There are several factors that influence the common teamwork; they include organizational processes, feedback mechanisms, and a certain level of autonomy (Brounstein, 2002). Nevertheless, the factors that affect the team effectiveness are usually internal structures and processes running within every team. In this case, the structure includes team size, set of common and individual skills and abilities, and group type. All these things partly depend on the stages of team development, cultural norms, and interpersonal relationships such as communication, trust, and facilitation. In addition, there is always a leader, who develops all these conditions examining the team performance and individual outcomes. If all features of organizational structure listed above are set properly, there will be no trouble in teamwork. It is a leader’s task to study and measure the team’s abilities according to the quantitative and qualitative results, for example, ideas generated by team members, products made, and their quality (defects and mistakes), customer services, and some other characteristics. It is a leader’s duty to find out the potential powers and predict outcomes of any group or individual activity with a help of analyzing workers’ satisfactory, and willingness of members to work in a team. Using this information, a leader should adapt his personal characteristics to the group, and define the line of cooperation with the team. A long list of books about the leadership style can be named, but most people use a so-called “situational” method as it provides flexible and effective approach. In this case, leaders use their own experience to deal with people, and it seems to be better than any book can tell.

One can find some keys of a good management very useful as they help in preserving steady motivation and developing other necessary features of a good teamwork. To build a high-performance team, a leader should establish organizational environment where every member can reflect upon and analyze relationships within the group. Team effectiveness depends on different roles of people. Consequently, while a leader receives freedom in choosing direction and the way of moving to the aim, team of people with the same characteristics can become a real disaster for the project. Effectiveness also directly depends on the interest that the team has in the project. A fundamental key to motivation is in supporting every part of a team with interesting duties (if it is possible) and these actions can create strong initiative in people. It is a quite delicate thing to build the right direction of working on the project. The right formulation is always required. Different formulation of the project objectives or requirements can cause different level of motivation. In this case, it is beneficial to use some oratorical methods to provide the team with exact information, direct and clear rules in a kind of advice rather than unquestioning order. Kelly E.M. explained, “The difference between a boss and a leader: a boss says ‘Go!’ — a leader says ‘Let’s go!”.

Motivation of the team is the main factor, which determines overall success. There are some “laws of motivation” that help keep and maximize the level of the team’s motivation from the beginning, not just up to the end of the project but during all the period of a teamwork. To organize all the work in the proper way that leads to an expected success and even better results, identifying the goals, purposes, and plans of action as clearly and understandably as possible to the whole team is the best beginning. Explaining the expected outcome constructively, factually, and directly determines what tasks should be carried out. Such explanation should be divided into parts for better understanding. An order in recognizing the main details of the work and dividing tasks between all the members of the group taking into account the abilities of everyone is crucial. The internal structure mentioned above is the way to keep the constant atmosphere of inspiration and peace, and it directly depends on the management and a person who does this management. Responsibilities and roles should be clearly defined for each member of a team. It is the task of a leader, who knows abilities and potential power of every person. All the work should be organized according to these abilities. These keys not only motivate but also reduce the possible risk of doing the work the wrong way. “Divide et impera,” said Caesar and here he hit the bull’s eye. In motivation, this principle is the determining thing because it gives a chance of individual contact and supervising each part of a team. It allows explaining questions, inspiring, and raising the level of motivation. Working towards achieving an interesting goal increases the effectiveness of a team magnificently.

Rewards, bonuses, appreciations, good grades can raise the desire to work and move the process towards the goals. Consequently, if the leader tries to support team happiness, goals, values, and morals, the grade of motivation rises significantly. Of course, it demands the high level of analyzes, supervision, and recognitions of these details by leader. The most part of common success depends on the leader’s brain, and the rest depends on the collective will to work it out.

What Should Be Avoided in Management of a Team?

There are numerous useful tips that can be used by any leader; nevertheless, sometimes actions and relationships inside a team can cause de-motivation (Sullivan, n. d.).

Most members of a team are usually intrinsically motivated to do the work, but this desire should be supported every time. No oppression and no depression should exist because such things kill the mood and put the team off its stride; consequently, the task or project will not be done properly and as good or as quick as required.

If there is no understanding or no agreement in the team, it is unlikely to reach success. The conflicts within a group are not something terrible and should not be avoided but discussed and eliminated if there are really any. The resolution of any conflicts should be encouraged without compromising the quality of the project through professional and healthy confrontation, willing and open discussion of necessary changes.

The problem cannot be solved if team members blame or try to find a scapegoat. It just creates another problem - an unhealthy tension inside a team. Of course, any mistake is a delinquent phenomenon but the responsibility lies not only on one person but also on everybody in the team. Every such a situation should be analyzed to find the way out and prevent similar occurrences in the future (Brounstein, 2002).

Another problem that can appear is when someone pushes and pushes his own point of view without interesting and considering the ideas of other team members (Drake-Knight, 2002). Such situation causes debates and farther confrontation that de-motivate others to show their own points of view. Avoiding such a situation can be real if everyone listens to another person and weighs up all the pros and cons of every thought. This principle must be a rule of a team communication. Any affronts are inacceptable and intolerable. Such behavior undermines the fundament of a team and kills the inner atmosphere. Avoidance and running away from the problems appearing during the work and hoping that they will just vanish away creates more problems including deep de-motivation. Only one avoidance should exist – avoidance of the problems avoidance.

No question should be left open or exist behind one’s back. It influences a team destructively; any consequent gossips cause a stirring divisiveness in the working atmosphere of a team. Such cases transform the desire to go towards the aim of the project into the sphere of negative emotions what blows a team up into unorganized parts. The task of a leader is creating an atmosphere of peace, and this atmosphere is one of the aims of all the members of a group (Brounstein, 2002).

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