An effective and productive teamwork is not an individual effort. The group members have to work together as one unit to provide good results. Leadership in a group manifests when a member exhibits some characteristics that make him or her beneficially different from other group members. These attributes and skills enable the leader to steer the group towards the attainment of the group objectives. We are a group of five members including Anna, Joan, Junnita, Megan, and me. We all exhibit great leadership qualities based on the manner in which we collaborate towards the achievement of our objectives. Our success depends on the effectiveness of the communication among the group members. The theory that represents the behavior of our group in most cases is the emergent leadership theory.
All the five members have shown they are initiative and ready to address their roles. This theory is tightly bound with the trait and role theories. The traits and roles enable an individual to be a situational, transformative, and contingency leader. The characteristics and traits of a good leader will be exhibited according to the manner in which he or she fits into roles and solves problems. This theory seems to suggest that one does not necessarily need to be born with certain traits to be a leader. A leader is one that reveals the leadership skills to the occasion and uses strong attributes that make him or her effectively undertake assigned duties.
Our group project is connected with the issue of homelessness. By carrying this project, we commit to visiting homeless shelters and interacting with them in a way that makes them feel valued. We do not set a goal to change the lives of the homeless drastically. We only focus on showing them love and making them laugh. The visit to the PATH organization in the down town LA, which is a homeless shelter, indicated the group’s desire to help the needy in the community. Under the emergent leadership theories, the role emergent leadership describes the behavior of the group more closely as compared to the situational contingency theory. A leader is not judged by the way he/she talks, but rather by acts and decisions.
When we went to the homeless center, we met various groups of people who had various personality traits. As a group, we had to learn how to work and collaborate with those people. In other words, we had to rely on effective communication so as to be able to understand them and to interact with them. Apart from that, we had to ensure that our body language, gestures, and expressions showed them how much we were glad to visit and take care of them. We all adopted a positive mood; we slimed a lot and were using the words of encouragement. The objective was to show that we empathize with them and that we care. As a result, we listened more than we talked. We let them share their stories and gave them words of encouragement.
The team members showed that they were assertive when it came to executing their roles. None of the team members waited to be pushed to do something. As a result, there was a high level of energy in the group as each member came forward to perform at the highest level. Since we formed this group for the first time, we had several conflicts among the members. Thus, it does not mean that we completely agree on every problem we have to face. In several of our meetings, we disagreed on issues and methods of implementation. For example, one incident occurred when we were discussing the amount of time spent at the homeless center. Since, we all had different views, it was not easy to harmonize the different proposals put forward by the members. After a lengthy discussion, we settled on a compromise duration which would fit the personal plan of every member.
To minimize conflict among us, we set a discussion and listen to what each of us has to say. In that way, we evaluate each suggestion based on the finding the merits and demerits of each proposal before we agree. Good communication has been very instrumental in managing conflicts that rise as we interact with each other. Agenda setting is a functional problem-solving tool that has helped us in planning for our activities and as well as in time management.The schedule is set before the group meeting to provide the members with adequate time to prepare. The group holds brainstorming sessions to deliberate on the agenda items. During the process of sharing opinions, the members are required to be open-minded so that they can accept ideas provided by others. Thus, the process of sharing ideas has to be flexible in order to help the group to have constructive discussions and to focus on the important issues. An agenda setting also ensures that adequate time is allocated for every item of discussion.
The role emergent leadership theory stipulates that a leader is one who knows his role and is ready to work towards some set goals. The communication and problem-solving skills help a leader to effectively perform assigned duties. After leaving PATH, we visited the Greater West Hollywood Food Coalition, which provides food for the homeless. I assumed the role of the leader for that trip. She was in charge of organizing the group members and led the planning process. I was also the one who visited the center first and booked our visit. Furthermore, I chaired the meeting in which we made the resolution to go to this center. We tried to avoid spending much time in discussion and set agent for each of the tasks, roles, and duties we would perform at the center. Task description was much easier since we had to decide between two duties; serving and washing the utensils. After an interactive discussion, the group decided to serve the lines as a unit and proceed to washing utensils thereafter.
When I was chairing the debate, the other members agreed to be led by me as the chairman. They were all supportive of my efforts to organize the visit since she exhibited good organization skills. However, we have experienced some problems due to differences of our personalities. I led the group in defining the roles and duties of each member during the visit. The decision to have the group work as a unit in the serving followed by cleaning was a fair agreement after debating. We all agreed that it would be time-saving and would eliminate the possibilities of complaints. The group did not have a specific leader to guide all other members due to the fact that all leading decisions were made after the agreement of all members to adhere the spontaneous proposal of any of the participants. Therefore, all the members are considered leaders since any of them can lead the group in any activity. Thus, the emergent theory of leadership is applicable in all the following cases. The members are free to set the agenda or provide ideas for new activities. When a member provides an idea, likeI did for this visit, it considered as an agenda to be discussed by the members in order to reach a decision. The team has the liberty to choose the member to chair the meeting or to lead in the preparation for the proposed activity. In many cases, the member who identifies an activity is placed in charge of overseeing its implementation. By doing this, we have opened more space for the emergent leadership capacities for each of the members to be involved.
Furthermore, our group is making efforts to reach the other members of the class to influence them to care for the homeless. We realized that mere talk would not help inspire others to show compassion to the homeless persons. That is why we prepared a package for the class to motivate them and to explain to them the benefits of caring for the homeless. As it was Megan’s idea, we let her lead the initiative. While she was leading the group, her leadership traits revealed such as Ann’s charisma which enabled her to reach the consciousness the other class members. She began with chairing the group meeting to deliberate on the most effective approach for explaining the purpose of our project to the other members of the class. In the meeting, Joan suggested packaging some simple items for them in order to show the basic necessities of the homeless which they are often lack of. Among the suggested items, we settled on soup, shampoo, lotion, toothpaste, toothbrush, and some nuts. The communication process in our group has provided a foundation for effective relationship. Even thought we have our personal attributes which make us different from each other, we have tried to accommodate one another and let each of us exercise the role of a leader in different ways. After we had agreed on the way forward, we asked Anna to prepare the pictures and powerpoint presentations which we would show to the class members to inspire them to come out and participate.
However, our communication was not so perfect and it suggests a multitude of ways to improve our interaction. The best way to improve our relations is through the use of communication and conflict management skills. One way of achieving this is through transparent management and communication. Verbal communication is a key ingredient in interpersonal communication. That is why during our meetings, every member ought to be given an opportunity to express herself freely. However, the most talkative member would talk more hence shadowing the opinions offered by the others. People with this type of personality should regulate the flow of their thoughts in order to give the others the opportunity to express their views. For Instance, in our first group meeting, Junnita almost out-talked all of us. Therefore, Megan being the chairman had to allocate adequate time for every member to contribute.
Intra-group collaboration is also necessary to improve communication. Effective collaboration ensures that each of the team members understand their roles and execute them in a manner that complements the others. Another method is to evaluate the mistakes openly and discuss the way forward. Therefore, when our group analyzes the areas where we have failed, we help each other grow. Moreover, an open discussion would help us provide better solutions to our problems. A group may encourage its members to share common space which is outside the group meetings. This allows members to interact freely and discuss issues that could be important to the group in a less official way and with less tension.
As it was mentioned above, conflict occurs in a group because of the difference in personalities. For our group to function properly, we have to find a way of encouraging healthy conflict and discouraging quarrels. Unhealthy conflict is minimized by setting common goals, working as a unit, sharing duties and roles, failures and success. The group has to find a way to set agendas and to evaluate each agenda based on merits it offers. Many groups usually meet with difficulties when defining and distributing roles to the members. Consequently, the group members find themselves in a conflict when dealing with the individualism of the members. In many occasions, some of them tend to go for the lighter duties. In other cases, they avoid duties that require them to commit more of their time and efforts. We faced with the same situation when discussing duties. In order to deal with this challenge, we had to set common goals to inspire each of us to play the assigned role.
To conclude, our group of five members has exhibited intermediate level of collaboration and initiative. During the analysis, it became evident that the role emergent leadership theory is the most applicable to our group. All the members clearly understand their roles thus limiting group conflict. Moreover, every member can show her leadership skills in different situations and be assigned as a leader. In times of conflict, we deliberate on the issues and find a common ground. However, there are some areas that we should work on to improve our interaction. This includes sharing of more common space, even deeper intra-group collaboration, and making our communication more open.