Academic journal article Academic Exchange Quarterly

Building Leadership and Understanding in Teams

Academic journal article Academic Exchange Quarterly

Building Leadership and Understanding in Teams

Article excerpt

Abstract

The purpose of this study was to conduct an exploratory investigation of team units in a graduate management course at a New York university. The fourteen participants were managers and aspiring leaders enrolled primarily in an MBA program. In the classroom, teams are often formed haphazardly and not intentionally based on research tested instruments. A research-based educational model and instrument was applied to the teams. Results indicated that formulating teams according to students' learning patterns had value for the instructor and participants. Learning pattern theory seemed to be the "ice-breaker" that helped students relate to one another, expedite the assigning of specific roles and responsibilities to team members and share leadership on their teams.

Purpose

The purpose of this study was to conduct an exploratory investigation of teams in a graduate management course. The adult participants were managers and aspiring leaders enrolled primarily in an MBA program. They engaged in experiential action research and applied an educational model and instrument to their team units. Participants were from various professions, including business, education, banking, engineering, sports and health care.

Theoretical Framework and Practical Significance

Adults are returning to professional schools in large numbers to improve their leadership and management skills. The disciplines of leadership and management weave across many professions (Drucker, 1999). Regardless of the discipline, the use of teams has become increasingly popular in classrooms and at worksites. Team theorists posit that individual capabilities are extended and extraordinary results are achieved within teams (Bolman & Deal, 1997; Katzenbach & Smith, 1993; Kline, 1999; Leavitt & Lipman-Blumen, 1995; Senge, 1990; Thompson, 2000). Unfortunately, when individuals work in teams, teams also fail and when this happens, the results can be disastrous for the organization and disappointing for team members (Kline, 1999). Instructors have been criticized for not guiding their students when they work in team units so that team skills, interpersonal interactions and leadership capabilities are improved (Bolton, 1999). Adults have been acculturated with assumptions and beliefs that affect their behaviors and how they interact in teams. Because of this, individuals may experience a tension or dilemma when they serve on a team (Katzenbach & Smith, 1993; Lipnack & Stamps, 1997; Pacanowsky, 1995; Thompson, 2000). Like a stretched rubber band, the individual, depending upon the strength of the tension, is pulled toward or away from the team unit.

The theoretical framework for the study was Johnston's (1996, 1998) Interactive Learning Model (ILM). Diverse teams were structured using Johnston & Dainton's (1996, 1997) research based Learning Combination Inventory (LCI). Very often, instructors do not formulate teams with intention. Instead, team formation is haphazard and not based on research-tested instruments. Therefore, Johnston's ILM and LCI principles were introduced to students at the beginning of the course (Let Me Learn website: www.letmeleam.org). Johnston posits it is possible to transfer learning that is individually based to learning that is team based by developing an understanding of four interactive learning patterns: Sequence, Precision, Technical Processing, and Confluence. According to Johnston (1998), Sequence seeks to "follow step-by-step directions, organize and plan work carefully, and complete the assignment from beginning to end free from interruptions" (24). In Precision, the learner "takes detailed notes, asks questions to find out more information, knows exact answers, and reads and writes in a highly specific manner" (25). Through the Technical Reasoning pattern, "we see the mechanics of operations, the functions of pieces; we construct, we mull, we make it work, we get it done" (27). …

Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

Oops!

An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.