February 12, 2014

Will leadership emerge in our classroom exercises?

So day 2 of the Leadership and Excellence module is now over. We have had 3 occasions to work in groups, two of which had a leader who was selected beforehand. However, I feel that we should ask ourselves this question. Do we need to, given the nature of the team-exercises we are doing?

Let me explain further. The exercises we have done till now have had several things in common: (1) the time-frame; they have all been short exercises, the longest being almost an hour long. (2) they are all "safe" exercises as Paul pointed out in the first session as they are being conducted in a classroom environment (3) most of the teams do not know the capabilities of everyone in the teams.

In this context, how limited is selecting a leader? Does he/she make a huge difference to the performance of the team? How much value can he/she add? My take is that, even if left alone a team faced with such a short time-frame will have some person(s) emerging as a leader just to coordinate the efforts of team. To ensure that everyone's contributions are being taken into account and to ensure the team is progressing towards achieving their objectives. I say so because in all the exercises till now, the leader has been a rather nominal figure. Now I am not taking anything away from the people who led, but according to me, the team would have performed at a similar level even without a leader. The only difference that I can imagine right now is the few minutes at the start where a leader, if present, would divide work among the team quickly and efficiently. A leaderless team might consume more time over this initial allocation of duties.

Thoughts and comments invited.

- 2 comments by 2 or more people Not publicly viewable

  1. Klaudiusz Czapski

    I think you make a good point, but there’s one thought to consider. We are all doing Masters degree that is somehow associated with business processes and leadership, so we know the basic stuff (get everyone involved, make sure tasks are done etc), but I think in a real world, you will have some people that when faced with a challenge in a short time-frame, will be be confused and disorganized, they might each try to do their own thing and at the end find out that one task has been done by 5 people, whereas some other task has not been addressed at all. So, given our environment, I think you are completely right, but in life, we will find people that would want someone to be a nominated leader – to do all the organizing, motivating, vision stuff we are doing right now. A new leader may emerge once in the process, but the initial stage is very important, so it’s good to have someone at least labelled as leader.

    12 Feb 2014, 11:41

  2. Abram Kakkozha

    Thank you Klaud. It is great that you commented as I derived this post from my discussion with you yesterday. I have to agree with you on the whole. In real-life projects, it would be wiser to have a designated person who can keep track of the progress of the project and to make sure that it meets the objectives for which it was started.

    12 Feb 2014, 11:50

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