First of all I would like to thank Prof. Bob Marx for his valuable efforts, kindness and time over the 3 days of marvelous journey together.
Objective of this paper
Through this paper I am trying to describe my job related problem and implement either Four Frame Approach or Situational Leadership Theory to improve it. In the end I will draw conclusions from there.
Description of Situation
The industry in today’s world is growing quickly, and with this increase comes the necessity for more people to manage and lead the growing companies, but this growing need give rise to some prospective questions: Is anyone capable of becoming a leader or a manager? Is there any difference among the two? Can people be taught to have leadership or managerial qualities? Just like many other questions in business; these questions have no one definite answer.
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I work in a Multi National Company. The company is considered one of the world leaders in automotive products. I work in the Research and Development center of the company and occupy the post of R & D laboratory engineer in the Electronic Laboratory. Our laboratory deals in the Validation and Development of automotive products.
We are a team of 4 members (Refer Figure 1) who work on different projects. Both personally and professionally we share a healthy relationship and try to maintain a good and positive work environment. The strong point of our team is that we share the burden of work amongst us and help each other when the situation demands. We acknowledge the concept of teamwork and its importance to the success of our team. However, all of us together are still striving towards perfection.
The principal problem is the low motivation of our team, may be it’s primarily because there is no positive communication with our manager. There is neither any feedback nor any assessment of task. He notices good performance but wait until half yearly performance review to express his appreciation. In an effort to achieve good results or meet deadline, he has forgotten about the finer behaviors that make the team better. It’s lucid that for a manager it’s extremely important to be result oriented but at the same time it’s very important to keep the environment positive.
A team means group of people, contributing their knowledge and skills, working together to achieve a common goal. But when a team doesn’t perform efficiently it’s not merely the fault of manager of the team as a whole. We should never forget that there are always two parts to a coin. Now I would like to describe the behavior of my other team members including myself.
I am the part of this laboratory from last 3 years. In this past three years I have worked on numerous projects. I am very dedicated and focused towards my work. I hardly ever need any direction from my manager but sometimes a little guidance is required. But every now and then I lose the motivation towards my work due to no feedback and no encouragement.
The second lab engineer is a hard working and self directed person. He is working for the company for last 6 years. Since he follows the same monotonous routine for past 6 years, he gets bored with every task assigned. He also shows lack of interest in the work; however he works well with the team.
The third lab engineer is a new team member. She is a contractor and has joined our team few months back. Her ambition is to get hired in the organization. She is enthusiastic and eager to learn new things, and always do her tasks well but at the same time relatively less skilled and inexperienced. I also find her sensitive and self critical. She takes things to heart and gets disappointed when things go wrong and then start criticizing the situation.
The lack of communication with manager and no individual growth of the group are becoming the important factors for our team ineffectiveness.
A new approach to problem solving
My seminar on Team Building and Leadership taught me two different approaches of solving the problems. Four Frames Approach and Situational Leadership Theory are tools if used appropriately can help solve most of the professional and personal problems. Before this class I didn’t even know if such type of tools existed. I am choosing Situational Leadership Theory for managing my job-related problem. I am trying to understand strengths and weaknesses of my each team member’s leadership style.
Situational Leadership (SLII) suggests that leaders can work in any situation by adapting their behavior accordingly i.e. they should exhibit different behavior as per the situation and it should match the developmental level of the team performing a specific task. Different situations called for different kinds or styles of leadership. SLII defines 4 leadership behaviors: S1 (high-directive but low-supportive), S2 (high-directive and high-supportive), S3 (low-directive but high supportive) and S4 (low-directive and low-supportive) and equally 4 development levels of the follower: D1 (low-competence but high-commitment), D2 (moderate-competence but low-commitment), D3 (moderate-competence but no commitment) and D4 (high-competence and high-commitment).
In the next table (Refer Figure 2) I have matched the leadership behavior levels and development levels of my team members:
Plan of Action
After studying acutely for few days the strengths and weaknesses of my team mates, I decided to apply the Situational Leadership Theory into Action. It was tricky to decide from where to start but I went with my intuition and asked my manager for a meeting.
In the meeting I started by explaining him about the Situational Leadership Theory. I drew a chart by explaining the 4 leadership styles and 4 development levels. During the course of meeting, I outlined him at which developmental level we four are and asked him what he felt about it.
I emphasized about the importance of giving feedback and providing encouragement, reassurance, support and admiration to acknowledge competence. I acknowledged him for his zeal to achieve the results but at the same time pointed out its drawbacks on the team members. In the end it was discussed that how we can help each other towards achieving same goals.
We decided to have a team meeting. In the meeting we discussed about the situation and the SLII theory in detail. I provided them with my feedback on the situation. We shared each other’s point of view and suggested the ways to make our goal more interesting. We decided that everyone should make an action plan on how to achieve that goal together.
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My team manager than have one on one meeting with three of us. During our meeting, he valued my coming forward and briefing him on the situation. He appreciated my dedication to work and affirmed me that from now on he will give us the feedbacks regularly. We even talked about my lack of confidence in some tasks and how I can improve it. He recognized that he also needs to improve in some areas. I don’t know what he discussed with my team members but I can feel an improved environment than before.
It’s still too early to tell that if the SLII theory had solved the difficulty of our team. But it’s has definitely helped. And that’s a really good start. I can see the improvement in our work and even in myself. I think it’s better to say that SLII is not just a theory but a model which when applied correctly can yield enhancing results.
Self Assessment Paper
Managing, understanding, motivation – focused on others or yourself – are lot more efficient when you understand yourself, and the people you seek to motivate. Understanding personality is also the key to unlock inexpressible human qualities, e.g. leadership, empathy and motivation, whether your purpose is self-development or helping others.
With 7 main goals we started our 3 days of beautiful journey on Team Building and Leadership seminar. The principal goals were to learn about myself and my strengths, my growing edge and about each other so we can work together as a high performance team. These goals were well accomplished as the seminar helped me to know more about my elusive qualities and others’ emotions. It made me realize that I should spend more time in building my strength rather than remedying my weaknesses. In this assignment paper I am going to assess myself on the four main topics of seminar:
Emotional Intelligence: Emotional intelligence is the ability, capacity or the skill that influence one’s ability to succeed in coping with environmental demands and pressures. It includes the ability to motivate oneself and persist even when one is frustrated, to control one’s impulses and delay gratification, to regulate the mood and keep distress from overwhelming the thinking ability, to empathize with others and to hope. Its structure is divided into Personal Competence (Self Awareness and Self Management) and Social Competence (Social Awareness and Relationship Management).
With the help of EI Self Assessment questionnaire (Pg 17-20 of the booklet) I interpreted that I have the capacity to correctly manage my emotions and feelings but I lacked in self motivation. I am good in sharing the problems of anyone but I am afraid of taking the risks. The seminar helped me to know my strength’s and limits. It helped me realise my capabilities and self confidence. It prepared me to be flexible in handling changes and to react efficiently in pressure situations. The self believe and confidence of Jennifer Connelly in the movie ‘A Beautiful Mind’ taught me that one should not be afraid of taking risks and initiatives. When one person hesitates because he feels inferior, the other is busy making mistakes and becoming superior. (Henry C. LINK)
Team Building Skills: I was once told that teamwork depends on the performance of every single member on the team. I had trouble understanding it until I was shown how the office computer performs when just one key is out of order. That one key destroys the effectiveness of the computer. Now I know that even though I am only one person, I am needed or essential for the success and fulfilment of the team.
Everyone work, think and act in unique ways. A principal reason why teams struggle is due to different styles and approaches to work. It is very difficult to work efficiently in a team without knowing what your style of work. Once you know your style, it is equally important to recognize the strengths and weaknesses of other members.
At my work, we are team of 4 members. We trust each other and we work together to achieve a common objective. I learned, from the game which we played last day, that to accomplish a goal we always have to work in accordance with a plan. After the group discussion and feedback, I realized that I was contributing actively in the team and offering the solutions. Everyone was equally focused to win. In the end I was happy to share the responsibility for my team’s loss and to get the positive feedback about my role.
Situational Leadership: It states that the effectiveness of a leader depends upon how much his leadership style is suited to the characteristics of his group and the nature of the group task. It’s a contingency theory that concentrates on team readiness; the more ready the team the less the need for leader support and supervision.
The case studies and the questionnaire which we responded in the seminar affirmed me that I have D3 developmental level and I have S3 leadership skills. I knew that I am capable of performing any task but at the same time I am doubtful of my own abilities. The seminar made me realize that I should not be afraid of doing things my way and taking things at my own pace because life is not about giving all or nothing; give what you can. It made me to push myself farther than I thought I could go. I learned a lot about myself and having a blast. I used situational leadership theory to improve my work related problem. I can feel the improvement at my work and the changes in myself.
The Four Frames: Just getting the people in the team is not good enough. They have to be told what the goal is. A team consists of different individuals. The objective is to make them all work together like a fist, like a team. This is the job of manager to recognize the major constituencies and to manage conflict as productively as possible. A manager needs a wide range of ways of seeing – frames. Frames are the set of assumptions that one carry in head; helps negotiate a particular territory. Reframing is an ability to understand and use multiple perspectives. There are four different frames for Leadership: Structural Frame (how to organize); Human Resource Frame (how to tailor organizations to satisfy human needs); Political Frame (how to cope with power and conflict) and Symbolic Frame (how to shape a culture that gives purpose & meaning to work).
I still remember Timothy said in seminar that any frame if applied efficiently can solve any problem. But on the contrary, I think that all four frames support each other. The biggest example is RFK High School Case. The situation of the school demands the application of each and every frame to improve problems. Even David King at the end of the day structured everything into four frames.
With the help of questionnaire on Leadership Orientations (Pg 22 of the booklet), I recognized that I belong to Human Resource Frame (HR). I am a good listener and my strongest point is interpersonal skills. I am concerned about people and share their feelings. I care and support others and try to keep everyone involved.
Personally I feel that all the goals of the seminar were entirely accomplished. I learned a lot about myself, my elusive strengths and my weaknesses. I got to know my classmates well and now I am optimistic that we can all work together efficiently in our future projects. I had a lot of fun and it was a fantastic experience. I enjoyed a lot while playing different games and challenged myself to win them. I really appreciated the portrait of David King played by my class mates and that of Chauncey played by Bob. This seminar taught me a lot and it has definitely exceeded my expectation. It was an unforgettable and lifetime experience for me. The seminar changed my vision toward many things. My warm regards and thanks to Professor Bob.
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