From an individual to an efficient team - the role of a leader in forming a group

Service Business

Each group of people cooperating with each other has a specific dynamic. We can formulate certain stages of team formation within the group which are usually quite common in most cases. The leader is also part of the team, so it is important that he knows what processes usually take place in him and what he, as a leader, should do at each stage. In this part of the series, we will look at team activity and the role of a leader in forming a group. We want to start by emphasizing and explaining the fact that working in a group is more effective than working individually. In the next part of this article, we will try to define team roles and consider what their implications for the leader are.

The role of the leader in the formation of the group at particular stages

The leader should be aware that it is impossible to create an effective team in one day. It takes time. People creating a team enter the so-called group process. Roles begin to emerge in it, and they jointly work out rules of operation. Interaction between group members is visible, i.e. conflicts, rivalry, cooperation with each other. How the leader leads the group will have an impact on its further development or disintegration. One of the theoretical models of the group process is Bruce Tuckman's proposal. He divided the group process into phases:

  • forming - team formation

  • storming - lapping and conflict

  • norming - normalizing the formation of rules and rules in a team

  • performing - action, cooperation

  • adjourning - suspension, parting.

He emphasized that the role of a leader in creating a group is to observe what phase the team is currently in. Thanks to this, he has the opportunity to act and lead the group in such a way that it works most effectively.

This model has been criticized by some. It is worth emphasizing that it may happen that some of the team members are in one phase and the rest in the other. This cannot be ruled out.

Let us analyze the different stages of the group process in order to understand it better and also to present the role of the leader in the formation of the group at different stages.

The forming phase - the role of the leader in the formation of the group

In the first phase, when the team members do not know each other well, there is no trust and a strong sense of responsibility for the team, there is no synergy. The role of the leader plays a key role here:

  • assigning tasks

  • creating group assumptions

  • defining structures, roles

  • formation of rules

  • defining the goal

  • giving feedback to each person on the team

  • observation of people in the team (how do they communicate, how they are oriented towards others, can they cope with stress).

Storming phase - the role of the leader in the team's lapping

At this stage, people begin to get to know each other better, they are more open in a positive and negative sense. They are more willing to express their views, often contrary to the views of others, which can sometimes lead to conflict. This phase is normal, sometimes for the team to "get in", so don't panic when it happens. If the leader interacts well with the team, this phase will pass over time. One of the proposed ways to work in a team is to inform them about the phases of the group process to increase their awareness of the topic. In this phase, the leader is responsible for the following areas:

  • selecting tasks in such a way that people need each other - in effect, they cooperate with each other

  • creating a safe field for conversations, for exchanging arguments in a conflict-free manner

  • help in creating a team structure

  • uncontrollable team.

Norming phase - the role of the leader in normalizing the rules in the team

At this stage, the role of the leader becomes less important. The team has become independent, it organizes its work well, it does not need constant control and monitoring, but support. So what is the role of a leader?

  • making each member of the team feel responsible for the project and be able to manage time on their own

  • vigilance and in the event of a conflict, reacting to it

  • not to be a leader, but to be a partner of the people on the team.

The performing phase - action

At this stage, the work of the team is smooth. They encounter fewer obstacles, fewer conflicts, get along better with each other, support each other, so they can focus their positive energy on work, which affects their efficiency. What is the leader's task?

  • being interested in what is happening in the team

  • setting new goals and challenges

  • motivating the team

  • taking an interest in who does what in the group

  • support in case of problems

  • giving development opportunities to team members.

If the group manages to reach this stage, it means that the role of the leader in the formation of the team has been fulfilled and that the leader and the team have been successful. However, the leader cannot rest on his laurels as there is a risk that the team may revert to one of the earlier phases of the group process. The reason may be, for example, the leader's withdrawal from the team, the appearance of a new team member, the leader's change of rules or division of duties, or the deprivation of a person's sense of responsibility for the project.

There is also a fifth phase that was added by the author after some time - adjourning, that is, parting or suspension. This phase can occur when a team has been created for a given project with people from other teams. What is the role of the leader in this phase?

  • skilful summary of group work

  • highlighting the success and achievements of the group

  • discussing the obstacles that the group encountered along the way, together with an analysis of how the team coped with the problem

  • summary of the roles performed

  • an indication of the group's potential

  • discussing with the group what they have learned from working together on this project

  • an indication of what development opportunities the group members have been given

  • giving them energy to continue working on another project.

Tuckman, when creating a theoretical model of the group process, referred to the qualitative analysis of articles that referred to several dozen of developmental, therapeutic, natural and laboratory groups. It was mainly based on therapeutic groups and therefore cannot be considered representative. His method has not been confirmed by quantitative research. The Tuckman model has been criticized. Many people are distrustful of him. The author adopted this method as a research hypothesis. Despite the skepticism of some people, the theoretical model of the group process by Tuckman is used in companies when building teams, accepted by scrum masters and discussed in business training.

Team building - can you specify the duration?

It is difficult to determine exactly how much time it takes to build a team and go through all the stages of the group process. It depends on the character traits of the group, on the knowledge and experience of team members, on the complexity of the project, and on the leader's experience. There shouldn't be talk of closing a group process. As soon as there is a change, the group process can start all over again.The leader should watch carefully how the change affects the group emotionally. The changes may include changing one of the elements of the project, the arrival of a new person to the team or a person leaving the team, a longer departure of the leader, etc.

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What roles, apart from the leader, can we see in the team?

The role of the leader in the formation of the group is to recognize what roles are in the team in order to work with the group in the right way and to intervene if necessary if someone is toxic to the group.

There are various classifications of team roles in the literature. In this article, we will present one of them by Meredith Belbin, who distinguished 9 team roles on the basis of research. It is worth noting that each of us never has only one role. We simultaneously perform several of those that are compatible with our character traits. Usually one of them is dominant.

Characteristics of the roles performed in the team:

  1. Coordinator

He manages a group, can become a leader, although he prefers to lead co-workers rather than subordinates. He can solve problems and conflicts in a team. He knows how to best manage the group's resources and the potential of colleagues. In his actions, he strives for a goal, is enthusiastic about work, but he is not without flaws. Sometimes he becomes lazy.

  1. Creator

Provides suggestions for solving the problem. He is distinguished from the team by his intelligence and creativity. He can inspire the team to generate new ideas. He has a lot of imagination, but he is characterized by chaotic actions.

  1. Evaluator

Can interpret problems. There is no problem with making judgments. It can be perceived as boring by the team at times. Suitable as a substitute for team leadership. He is composed and is able to approach tasks and problems in a practical way.

  1. Implementer

He is a reliable person in the team, you can count on him. Can adapt to working conditions. Works efficiently. Such a person will not leave a task unfinished. It also does these less convenient designs. He always knows what needs to be done at any given moment. He is well organized and willing to help other people on the team. Its disadvantages are being submissive and low flexibility in the performance of work.

  1. Perfectionist

It is characterized by accuracy, meticulousness, detail and precision. Controls work schedules. It is characterized by composure and high subordination. However, his pedanticity can be classified as a disadvantage.

  1. Locomotive

Can work under time pressure. Suitable for acting as a group leader. He can motivate the team to work. He looks at interpersonal problems in advance. He doesn't spend much time considering changes. She works effectively for the success of the team. She is an outgoing, communicative person and can deal with stress. However, he lacks patience, can be ruthless and likes to impose his will on others.

  1. The soul of the team

He cares for a good atmosphere. He is able to alleviate interpersonal conflicts. He makes sure that everyone can get involved in the project. She is a communicative and open person. The flaws it has are submission and low confidence in what it does.

  1. Source finder

Likes to invent new things using resources that the team does not have. He looks for solutions to the task in various places. There is no problem with making contacts outside of the organization. He can negotiate. He can get the necessary information that no one else has found. Others in the group like him. She is an outgoing, open-minded and enterprising person. At times, his enthusiasm can get in the way of teamwork. He's moody sometimes.

  1. Expert

His presence is very useful in teamwork because of the knowledge and skills he possesses. He is highly intelligent. He is not pleasant in contact with others, sometimes he overestimates his skills. He can analyze problems. He is prudent and does not stand for either side. Sometimes he is too critical of others.

Each role is different, but extremely useful in creating a group. The team leader should approach the employees individually and use the best resources of each of them. People with the qualities of a Coordinator and a Locomotive can support the leader in managing the team and motivating people to work. A person with the role of Perfectionist can support the leader in taking care of details in the project. An employee called the Implementer is useful in the team because he will be willing to support other colleagues, and the leader can count on the completion of the tasks entrusted to him. The role of the Team Soul can be used by the leader to relieve tension and resolve conflicts. There are two more roles left that the leader can use in creating the team. The person acting as the Source Finder should be directed by the leader towards external contacts, but the leader should be able to deal with his moods. One should not forget about the role of the Specialist, who should provide substantive support for the leader. It is worth noting that the leader will not always have every role in his team at his disposal, but it should also be remembered that people do not have the characteristics of only one of the roles.

In conclusion, working in a team usually involves a group process. It is important for the leader to know what role he is playing in each phase of the group process. Thanks to this, he can support the team in an appropriate way. The leader is responsible for creating a goal and mission with the team. At the very beginning, the role of the leader in the formation of the group is related to the supervision of the team, but over time the leader should give the team more freedom to act and become a partner of the group. It is also important for the leader to be able to notice the roles of team members in order to be able to properly motivate them and stimulate them to action.