All 5 entries tagged Leadership

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June 14, 2009

Effective Teams

I beleive that a part of leader's responsibility is to improve his or her team's effectiveness. I have not thought of it before but what is an effective team? What makes a team effective? 

I found my answer in chapter 10 of 'Inspirational Leaders' by Ronald J Burke and Cary L. Cooper. In the book, team effectiveness consists of 2 components: team performance and team viability.

Performance relates to teams ability to successfully deliver an output. Where as the concept of viability is future oriented and includes continutity (maintaining core team membership), commitment (to shared goals), cohesion (unity between team members) and capability (developing competencies to achieve shared goals).

So to maximise effectiveness of a team, a leader must attend to both performance and viability of the team.


June 08, 2009

Servant Leadership

Spears (and no I do not mean Britney :) ) identified 10 characteristics of a servant leadder in Robert Greenleaf's book - 'The power of Servant Leadership.' These are:

1.      Listening

2.      Empathy

3.      Healing

4.      Awareness

5.      Persuasion

6.      Conceptualisation

7.      Foresight

8.      Stewardship

9.      Commitment to the growth of people

10.  Building community

The above points 1-3 is about how to effectively manage people. Listening to them, empathising with them and healing relationship between co-workers and friends.

Awareness is about being aware of one's strengths and weaknesses as well as the surroundings.

Persuasion is about how to effectively approach people and motivaate them in the long run. Using powers of reason and logic to persuade other rather than one's positional power.  

Conceptualising and foresight is about identifying an appropriate vision, strategy and goals for the team/company, and being aware of the consequences of the actions that one take to achieve set goals.

Stewardship is what I beleive is the essense of servant leadership style, it is about 'first abd foremost a commitment to serving the needs of others.' And this links in with the 9th point, investing the the growth of individuals both from intelectual and career perspectives.

The final point, is about aiming for more than just successful achievement of a goal and creating an effective team, it is about creating a great environment for everyone.

I really this model because it shows the several dimensions of leadership as well as describe a leader as more than just as someone who leads others.  


June 04, 2009

Where did all the big leaders go?

During the LE module, someone raised an intersting question - Why we no longer have big leaders like Nelson Mandela or Gandhi? Leaders that can capture the imagination of an entire nation and motivate a whole country into action. Where did they all go? Why we do not have this type of leaders anymore?

I found that answer in Warren Bennis's book - 'On becoming a leader'. He states that the problems that companies face are significantly more complex than compared to those faced in the past. Therefore, no matter how effective and knowledagble leader is he/she cannot solve today's problems effectively on their own.

Bennis's soultion to today's problems lies with teams of talented individuals with varied knowledge and skils who are lead by an effective leader(s). So, we might not have a BIG LEADER, but effective organisations have at least several effective leaders.

 


May 03, 2009

Optimum number of team members

Writing about web page http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Meredith_Belbin

Meredith Belbin stated that an effective team must have at least one of the following:

1. Plant

2. Resource Investigator

3. Co-ordinator

4. Shaper

5. Monitor-Evaluator

6. Team-worker

7. Implementer

8. Completer-finisher

9. Specialist


Linking this with what Malcolm Gladwell wrote in his book - 'The Tipping Point' - it raises an interesting question what is the optimu number for people in an effective team and what a leader must do when the team exceeds that number. Malcolm Gladwell wrote an individual can only have continuous, regular and meaningful contact with maximum of 12 people. An individual rarely can exceed that  number because everyone is limited by time and energy.

In our in-class discussions we assumed that the team we are talking about are about the same size as the one we had for all the modules that we attended i.e. between 4 and 7 team members. In teams of this size, it is easy for a leader to keep contact with everyone and address each team-member's problem(s) as they arise.

However, what happens if we as leader(s) must manage a team of 50, 100 or even 347 people. How do we keep at least the majority of them motivated and working hard towards the set goals. I beleive that in order to achieve this a leader must develop sub-leaders or lietenants who can supervise the sub-sets of teams. The leader will lead his lietenants who then will lead their team-members. 

This is the structure that most organisations adopt. Although it does enable the leader to manage a large sized team, it does create an additional problem of how to ensure that the message does not get diluted or skewed as it travels down from the leader to the lowest team-member.


I beleive that there are 2 things that leaders must to do to mitigate this:

1. Have a clear, short vision that easily be converted into strategy and specific operational goals.

2. Ensure that there is a clear communication channels that allow open feedback.


To summarise, an effective team must not be above 12 people and if there are more than 12 people in a team they should be broken down into sub-teams according to specific goals and/or tasks.


April 23, 2009

How to Be a Leader

The below points are from a book that I recently read called "How to Win Friends and Influence People" by Dale Carnegie. It is available in the library and I recomend everyone to read it. Library Ref. No. QZ 820.C2 

Be a Leader

1.    Begin with praise and honest appreciation

2.    Call attention to other people’s mistakes indirectly

3.    Talk about your own mistakes before criticizing the other person

4.    Ask questions instead of giving direct orders

5.    Let the other person safe face

6.    Praise the slightest improvement and praise every improvement. Be hearty in your approbation and lavish in your praise.

7.    Give the other person a fine reputation to leave up to.

8.    Use encouragement. Make the fault seem easy to correct.

9.    Make the person happy about doing the thing you suggest

Dale Carnegie states that applying the above principles will help one to be a more effective leader.

I was chosen to be a leader by my team for the second assignment and I beleive that we made a good progress today. We achieved the following today:

  • Identified a vision for Waverider company that is in line with our chosen strategy. We do realise that it is supposed to be the other way round
  • Broken down the strategy into department specific goals
  • Agreed on preliminary presentation structure
  • Assigned responsibilities to each team member, including the leader, which must be completed prior to the next meeting

I beleive that the above progress was achieved because our team is dedicated, innovative and motivated to succeed. We all learned from our past in-module experiences, on what is required to be both an effective leader and team member.

As a leader, my job was to facilitate the idea creation process and play to team member's strengths.

For example, Jeries - IT skills, Pepie  - Resourcefulness, and Konstantina - Innovativeness.

From the above list of principles, I applied the principles 1, 4 and 8 (minus the mistake part). In addition to this I also did the following:

  • Write everything on the board to ensure that everyone could visualise and clearly see each other ideas
  • Encouraged everyone to contibute and ensure that all ideas were heard
  • Kept track of time to ensure that all work would be done by agreed deadline
  • Resolved any doubts and issues which lead to better decision


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