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Case Study: Forgotten Group Member

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Teams are indispensable elements of any organization's performance. Organizations rely on groups and teams as they provide greater opportunities for the development of collective thinking. Unfortunately, not every leader knows how teams and groups should be managed. As a result, groups become ineffective and fail to achieve the desired organizational outcomes. The fact is that, when individuals enter teams, they impact them and other members; simultaneously, the team environment influences and changes individual behaviors. An effective leader is that who knows the stages of group development and can manage them in ways that enable individual members of the team to utilize their individual and team potentials to the fullest.

Stages of Group Development

Effective leaders must know the ways in which the groups they are leading actually develop. Today's theorists offer various explanations to stages of group development, but Tuckman's model is still the most popular. This model of group development includes the following stages: forming, storming, norming, performing, and adjourning (Forsyth, 2009). The forming stage is the period of team orientation when members get acquainted with one another and start to accept each other as part of the group. The storming stage starts when team members develop conflicts and disagreements regarding the most essential group procedures (Forsyth, 2009). This is when many team members start to experience antagonism towards their leader and other members. The norming stage is when the team is becoming more cohesive and unified while also establishing the norms and standards of group performance (Forsyth, 2009). The performing stage is characterized by task orientation and goal achievement when the team works hard to accomplish its mission. Finally, at the adjourning stage, all tasks are completed and all roles are terminated (Forsyth, 2009).

Based on this information, Christine's team has already passed the norming stage of team development when norms were formed and has entered the stage of performing when the entire team is working hard to achieve their team goals. Everyone has already handed in their tasks to Christine except Mike. Obviously, the team at this stage is characterized by cooperation and mutual support, but Mike remains a forgotten group member. If Christine knew the stages of group development, she would learn that, at the performing stage, it is almost impossible to engage Mike in their group activities. At this stage, the group is no longer focused on what it is being focused on what it needs to do (Forsyth, 2009). It is possible to assume that, at present, the group will have no time to teach Mike the norms of team behavior and try to resolve the conflicts, which will necessarily emerge. If Christine was aware of the team development stages, she would be more decisive in her striving to involve Mike in all team activities and making him part of their group.

Individual Membership in Teams

Christine should be aware of the fact that individuals and teams are interdependent. While team membership impacts individual performance, individuals also impact teams. The key personality features related to team performance include conscientiousness, extraversion, and agreeableness (Forsyth, 2009). Mike has all these features, but he fails to use them wisely. On the other side of this conflict, Christine does not take any actions to increase her team's cohesion. The primary problem facing Christine's team is her reluctance to be more decisive in bringing Mike into the team. Another problem is that Christine does not understand the nature of team performance and the role played by each team member. According to Belbin's team role theory, each team role has advantages and drawbacks, and every team member has something to contribute to the entire team (Utley, 2010). Moreover, individual-level outcomes, such as absenteeism and stress, necessarily impact team-level outcomes, such as productivity and performance (Griffin & Moorehead, 2009). The secondary problem is Mike himself and the way he is dealing with the team and his tasks. Christine should remember that, according to the case study, Mike is the clown. Consequently, everything he is doing and saying may be nothing but a matter of acting and playing in public.

Possible Solutions

Apparently, there is no "one perfect solution" in this situation. Therefore, Christine may choose between pursuing her current leadership path or adopt a new, transformational philosophy and transform her team's performance to make it better. The first path is easy and unobtrusive, but it will not lead the team to achieve the best performance result. Christine understands that Mike has interesting and productive ideas, which could raise their chances to get the best mark during peer evaluation, and she is willing to incorporate their ideas into the final group project. Transformational leadership is a preferable option as it helps team leaders overcome social loafing among members and create an atmosphere of sharedness (Dionne, Yammarino, Atwater & Spangler, 2004). To make it happen, Christine will have to explore the best Mike's talents and attributes and discover the ways, in which they can be enhanced and used within the team.

Conclusion: Christine Is an Ineffective Leader

At present, Christine can hardly be considered as an effective leader for two reasons. First, she lacks the most essential leadership attribute – motivation. She cannot motivate Mike to become part of their project team. Second, she is not proactive and does not do anything to promote her team's cohesiveness and improve its performance. Undoubtedly, Christine's academic achievements alone cannot make her a good leader. An effective leader is that who possess outstanding communication skills and can help any team member utilize his (her) creative potentials to the fullest. Christine has been lucky to have communicative and outgoing people in her team, but, as a leader, she should make additional effort to achieve the best result. 

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