Did you know that all teams are groups, but not all groups are teams? Many employees are part of groups (formal and informal) and some of those groups emerge into teams. Many teams go on to become highly successful because of effective management and leadership of the team. To begin with, let’s define some terms–organization, group, and team. Then, we will examine management, leadership, and leadership effectiveness. And finally, we will look at groups, teams, and their dynamics within organizations (processes and characteristics).

What are organizations, groups, and teams?

In the book, The Five Functions of Management, Drs. Reilly, Minnick, and Baack state, “An organization is a collection of people who work together and coordinate their actions to achieve a wide variety of goals or desired future outcomes” (p.4). We think of the organization as one large group and there are many teams within this group. A group is simply two or more people who interact with each other to accomplish a goal or satisfy a need. Groups can be formal or informal (CM, 2007), such as an informal group of co-workers with whom you meet to share advice, best practices, and career ideas. A team is a group whose members work intensely together to accomplish specific goals or objectives (CM, 2007), such as a committee assembled to plan a fund raising event. According to Katzenbach and Smith (1995), teams tend to share or rotate leadership roles, as opposed to groups that have a designated leader. In addition, teams possess both mutual and individual accountability, while groups focus on individual accountability for one’s own work (Katzenbach and Smith, 1995).

What are management, leadership and leadership effectiveness?

Management consists of five functions: planning, organizing, staffing, leading, and controlling. According to Drs. Reilly, Minnick, and Baack, “Management consists of all the techniques that are used to lead human resources in an organization to become productive” (2012, p.6). As regards the management process, Dr. Ray Powers states, “In reality, resource allocation is the most important thing we do.   I define resources as people, time, money, and assets—and of course the basic definition of a project is to have a goal and a start and end date—pretty much any activity we do” (2014). Reflecting on both of these definitions, we believe the management process is extremely important.

What is leadership and leadership effectiveness? This is an extremely important question, as leadership is a key component within the management functions. Leadership expert Dr. Afsaneh Nahavandi, in her book The Art and Science of Leadership, maintains, “A leader is any person who influences individuals and groups within an organization, helps them in the establishment of goals, and guides them toward achievement of those goals, thereby allowing them to be effective” (2000, p.4). About leadership effectiveness, Nahavandi proposes, “A leader is effective when his or her followers achieve their goals, can function well together and can adapt to the changing demands from external forces” (2000, p.6).

Organizations and the Need for High Performing Teams

High performing teams are effective, efficient, and cohesive. They are effective because team members collaborate toward common goals. They resolve conflicts and cooperate to move forward. High performing teams are efficient because they share resources, skills, talents and leadership. They avoid dominance and waste of resources. High performing teams are cohesive, too. Daniela Molanu states “A characteristic commonly seen in high-performance teams is cohesiveness, a measure of the attraction of the group to its members (and the resistance to leaving it). Those in highly cohesive teams will be more cooperative and effective in achieving the goals they set for themselves” (Para 3).

Today, more than ever, effective management and leadership are critical for success in organizations, in groups, and in teams. Our world and markets are very dynamic. Success in organizations is more of a team versus individual performance. “Teams are the basic structure of how projects, activities, and tasks are being organized and managed within companies worldwide. Global organizations strive for competitive advantage and increasingly incorporate the use of high-performance teams to deploy complex business strategies” (Molnau, n.d., Para 2). What we have seen and experienced is that management and leadership matter in groups and teams. Effective management and leadership within groups can make a group successful, and within specific teams, it is a positive influencer that leads to and eventually transforms them into high-performance teams. We believe that high performance teams drive organizations forward and further success. Joseph Weiss (2011) tells us that effective teams share a commitment to goals, tasks and performance. They establish clear and efficient group processes, they collaborate, work toward competence, and team member satisfaction.

Reflecting on our experience and knowledge, we have been a part of many types of groups and teams within the organizations we have worked. We experienced that effective managers and good leaders facilitate clear communication among team members, create a productive climate, provide resources and manage team performance toward set goals while being adaptable. We concluded that in successful teams, effective management and leadership were two key components that allowed them to grow and mature into high-performance teams.

References

CM Course – Groups and Teams. (2007). Institute of Certified Professional Managers course. Harrisonburg, VA: Institute of Certified Professional Managers. A Business Center of the College of Business, James Madison University.  

Katzenbach, J. R. & Smith, D. k. (1995). The Discipline of Teams. Harvard Business Review. 71(2), pp. 111-112.

Molnau, D. (n.d.). High-performance teams: understanding team cohesiveness. Retrieved September 19, 2015, from http://www.isixsigma.com/implementation/teams/high-performance-teams-understanding-team-cohesiveness/

Nahavandi, A. (2000). The art and science of leadership (2nd ed.). Upper Saddle River, NJ: Prentice Hall.

Powers, Ray (2014). Personal conversation. Forbes School of Business. Ashford University.

Reilly, M., Minnick, C., & Baack, D. (2011). The five functions of effective management. San Diego, CA: Bridgepoint Education, Inc.

Weiss, J. W. (2011). An introduction to leadership. San Diego, CA: Bridgepoint Education, Inc.