Tuesday, December 8, 2009

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Leadership Focuses On Group Approach | Leadership Is Essentially An Other-Centred Activity

Leadership focuses on the group. This group approach, as it may be called, leads us to see leadership in terms of functions that meet group needs:


In fact, if you look closely at matters involving leadership, there are always three elements or variables:
  • the leader – qualities of personality and character;
  • the situation – partly constant, partly varying;
  • the group – the followers: their needs and values.
In fact, work groups are always different, just as individuals are. After coming together they soon develop a group personality, so that who works in one group may not work in another. All groups and organizations are unique.

But that is only half of the truth. The other half is that work groups – like individuals – have certain needs in common. There are three areas of overlapping needs that are centrally important, as illustrated in Figure below.


Task need
Work groups and organizations come into being because there is a task to be done that is too big for one person. You can climb a hill or small mountain by yourself, but you cannot climb Mount Everest on your own – you need a team for that.
Why call it a need? Because pressure builds up a head of steam to accomplish the common task. People can feel very frustrated if they are prevented from doing so.

Team maintenance need
This is not so easy to perceive as the task need; as with an iceberg, much of the life of any group lies below the surface. The distinction that the task need concerns things and the team maintenance need involves people does not help much.

Again, it is best to think of groups that are threatened from without by forces aimed at their disintegration or from within by disruptive people or ideas. We can then see how they give priority to maintaining themselves against these external or internal pressures, sometimes showing great ingenuity in the process.

Many of the written or unwritten rules of the group are designed to promote this unity and to maintain cohesiveness at all costs. Those who rock the boat or infringe group standards and corporate balance may expect reactions varying from friendly indulgence to downright anger.

Instinctively a common feeling exists that ‘United we stand, divided we fall’, that good relationships, desirable in themselves, are also an essential means towards the shared end. This need to create and promote group cohesiveness I have called the team maintenance need. After all, everyone knows what a team is.

Individual needs
Thirdly, individuals bring into the group their own needs – not just the physical ones for food and shelter (which are largely catered for by the payment of wages these days) but also the psychological ones: recognition; a sense of doing something worthwhile; status; and the deeper needs to give to and receive from other people in a working situation. These individual needs are perhaps more profound than we sometimes realise.

They spring from the depths of our common life as human beings. They may attract us to, or repel us from, any given group. Underlying them all is the fact that people need one another not just to survive but to achieve and develop personality.

This growth occurs in a whole range of social activities – friendship, marriage and neighbourhood – but inevitably work groups are extremely important because so many people spend so much of their waking time in them.


The three circles interact
Now these three areas of need overlap and influence one another. If the common task is achieved, for example, then that tends to build the team and to satisfy personal human needs in individuals. If there is a lack of cohesiveness in the team circle – a failure of team maintenance – then clearly performance in the task area will be impaired and the satisfaction of individual members reduced. Thus we can visualise the needs present in work groups as three overlapping circles, as shown in Figure above.

Leadership is essentially an other-centred activity – not a self-centred one.

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Haja Peer Mohamed H, Software Engineer by profession, Author, Founder and CEO of "bench3" you can connect with me on Twitter , Facebook and also onGoogle+

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