The beginning of the FIFA World Cup, and the fact that USA is playing today, got me thinking a lot about teams. Specifically, how leaders and coaches can help their team’s performance on the field and in the office. I have drawn upon Yukl (2006) and other theorists in leadership literature to highlight seven areas leaders can focus on to improve performance.
1.) Commitment to a shared objective: The leader needs to articulate a compelling vision, link goals to member ideals, and empower team members. This allows the team members to work towards a common goal because team performance will be higher when its members are motivated to share objectives (Podskoff, MacKenize, & Ahearne, 1997).
2.) Member skills and role clarity: The leader needs to clearly explain everyone’s roles, provide coaching, and feedback to the team. Members need to know specifically what their job is and possess the skills needed to accomplish all tasks related to their job.
3.) Internal Organization and Coordination: The leader needs to match the tasks to skills/people, synchronize interdependent tasks, and use active planning strategies. The performance of a team not only depends on the motivation and skills of members, but also on how members are organized to use their skills. It is also be important to train members on how to share important team responsibilities.
4.) External Coordination: The leader needs to maintain networks of contacts, consult with other sub-units, meet with clients, and remain aware of the environment. As a leader it is not only important to focus on your team but it also important to not lose sight of external factors that could affect your team’s performance.
5.) Resources and political support: The leader needs to take charge of planning, budgeting, and influencing superiors. Group performance also depends on getting information, resources, and political support needed to do the work.
6.) Mutual trust and cooperation: The leader needs to engage in team building and improving the collective identification. Even a talented, well-organized team may fail in carrying out its mission unless there is a high level of cooperation and mutual trust among the members.
7.) Collective efficacy and potency: The leader needs to be optimistic, set realistic goals, and celebrate successes. Member commitment depends in part on the shared belief of members that the team is capable of successfully carrying out the mission and achieving specific task objectives (Bandura, 2000; Guzzo, Yost, Campbel, & Shea, 1993; Pearce, Gallagher, & Ensley, 2002).
Readers, I hope you have enjoyed this blog post. GO Team USA!
Bandura, A. (2000). Exercise of human agency through collective efficacy. Current Directions in Psychological Science, 9, 75-78.
Guzzo, R. A., Yost, P. R., Campbel, R. J., & Shea, G. P. (1993). Potency in groups: Articulating a construct. British Journal of Social Psychology, 3, 87-106.
Pearce, C. L., Gallagher, C. A. & Ensley, M. D. (2002). Confidence at the group level of analysis: A longitudinal investigation of the relationship between potency and team effectiveness. Journal of Occupational and Organizational Psychology, 75, 115-119.
Podskoff, P. M. MacKenize, S. B., & Ahearne, M. (1997). Moderating effects of goal acceptance on the relationship between group cohesiveness and productivity. Journal of Applied Psychology, 82 (6), 974-983.
Yukl, G. (2006). Leadership in organizations, 6th ed. Upper Saddle River, NJ: Prentice Hall.