Teamwork and Leadership: Approaches, Challenges, and Best Practice

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In today’s organisational world, success is dependent on the quality of the employees’ skills, efforts, and innovation. There are varying approaches to gather these employees on a team, usually headed by a leader. On that note, Marcousé (2005 p. 234) states that “[l]eadership, at its best, means inspiring staff to achieve demanding goals.”However, leader types and team structures can face a number of challenges which restrict positive outcomes. This can be prevented by attaining best practice, which is “a ‘set’ a human resources practices that have the potential to enhance organisational performances when implemented”(Beardwell, 2007 p. 669). Hence, with the various existing approaches on leadership and teamwork come challenges which can be avoided if the limiting factors are controlled to create a well-operating team.

People in the organisations implement various types of leadership. However the main ones that are likely to be introduced nowadays are autocratic, democratic or paternalistic types. Autocratic leaders run things their own way without taking into consideration what their subordinates feel about certain aspects of the business. They have a clear idea of how they want a task to be completed and therefore do not include employees in the decision-making process. Leaders which use the autocratic approach do not delegate responsibilities to the team members and prefer to stay in control over the business. (Malcolm Surridge, 2005, p.181) Alternatively, paternalistic leaders are open to the opinions of their subordinates and allow for dialogue between people on the higher lever of hierarchy and the junior staff. However, the leader will still be the one who makes the main decisions. (Malcolm Surridge, 2005, p.182) Leaders who use the democratic approach, however, tend to communicate with the employees down the hierarchy and consider their points of view. They delegate responsibilities within the organisation allowing subordinates to actively participate in discussions of decision-making. This is motivational for employees given that they are well-trained and informed about aspects of the organisation in order to carry out their defined job. Despite the fact that leadership is one of the major keys to organisations’ success, strong teamwork is considered as well. There are various factors that employees are likely to have in order to create a well-operating team. (Malcolm Surridge, 2005, p.182)

Effective communication is one of the most significant skills a member obtains whilst working with others. Sometimes the targets that a team member sets to himself might overweigh the overall objective of the team which can be counter-productive. This is when active communication is required. Another possible approach is working as one without showing the dominance of a single personality. Being in a team also requires one to develop respect for others’ values and opinions. Stella Cottrell (2003, pp. 121-122) Likewise, motivation is the optimal approach to strong teamwork and excellent performance of team members. A notable example of this is of an American psychologist Douglas McGregor who, in the early 1950s, established two theories which he named Theory Y and Theory X, describing the factors that motivate individuals within the organisation. It is believed that subordinates that refer to Theory X try to avoid work and responsibilities. These types of individuals call for supervision and are not the best types for teamwork. However, those which refer to the Theory Y are believed to be ambitious and tend to put effort and time into the production of the business. These types of employees enjoy work and are therefore naturally open to interacting with others which involves, not only sharing their own ideas, but also accepting propositions from other team members. Individuals that refer to the Theory Y generally enjoy taking responsibilities which is more useful while dealing with arisen issues in the team. Ian...
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