A team leader

Evaluate your performance as a team leader and your ability to lead a team effectively, commenting on your strengths and areas for improvement. The initial session involved the group meeting each other for the first time. To begin with the members seemed hesitant about what would take place at the sessions and what was expected of them. Tuckman identified this stage as the forming stage and is characterised by anxiety from the participants. At this point, individuals are gathering information and impressions about each other, and about the scope of the task and how to approach it.

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Tuckman’s forming stage is important for the leader. It is also where tasks have to be understood, resources and information acquired, individuals have to get to know one another and no one will want to seem less informed than the other. There is still considerable reliance on the leader at this stage. At the forming stage Tuckman claims there is a high dependence on the leader for guidance, direction and structure. The leader’s main goal is to guide members of the group into being aware of the organisations mission, and goals. Part of the group forming process is asking questions.

Things like ‘What are we supposed to be doing’, ‘what is being asked of us’, ‘when does it have to be done by’ are all types of questions that are observed when groups are forming. A leader should provide as much structure as possible in this stage. It was important from the start that I facilitated discussions on a level that all members could understand, ensuring that everybody was invited to participate, the aim being to support and empower the members, by adopting an anti-oppressive approach, enabling my team members to be actively involved in the decision making.

I noticed that others may felt less confident about talking within the team and there were certain members who rarely spoke at all. I did make a genuine attempt to ensure that all members felt comfortable with each other and encouraged all members to participate and talk freely about any ideas or worries they may have had. This did occur within my interaction, and despite there being times when I had to actively press the quieter ones into contributing towards the discussion, mainly by asking them questions, all members were communicating effectively if only towards the end of the task.

However, I noticed that at times that the group would stray either by conversation or actions from the actual task at hand and I had to press them into remaining focused on more than one occasion. My observer stated that I managed to deter the group from being distracted and getting back on the task at hand successfully and without inviting conflict between myself and the other team members. Being the team leader, one of the most important things I had to do before the brief was to be well prepared and to plan and organise what I wanted to say.

I would obviously not be able to put across the points in an effective and proper way if I did not know what was to be said. Hence, preparation and planning and organising the points that I wanted to say helped me to divulge the necessary information to the group. This is one of the cardinal rules of communication. I Identified and defined the goals of the team and ensured that members focused on fulfilling them without necessarily looking at their interpersonal issues.

Of course, a team that does not have clearly defined goals usually tends to stray away from task-related issues, into personal ones. When teams think about achieving the ultimate goal, they attach more importance to their work and hence remain more united for that purpose. If the team goals were poorly defined and if members did not know what the goal was, it will be almost impossible for them to achieve it. The last thing I wanted to do was to leave everyone confused and working in the wrong direction.

Whenever a team member spoke to me, or asked me a question I would always try to give them my complete attention, and I attempted to show my attention and be genuinely interested in their ideas and feelings. I thought that this might be a good way of showing them that their ideas were and would be valued, even if at times I went on to dismiss their advice. I suddenly realised that my team members were taking everything I said into account, and that anything I said out of tone was picked taken notice of.

Thus the pressure came surmounted onto me to make sure that I didn’t speak out of tone, but that I did my best to talk slowly, loudly and calmly in order that they would fully comprehend what I was trying to get across. As the task went on, I felt that I generally managed to relax and improve they way that I spoke to them as the atmosphere became a lot less tense and more friendly and relaxed.