Leadership and Teams Study Guide

Study Guide

The following study guide is to help you prepare for the final exam. The material is for your practice and review only. As you work through these study guides, pay attention to your confidence level with the material. As you grasp the following information, notice how comfortable you are with the content. When you read it, much of it is intuitive and you will find you probably know much more about leadership and teams and the related topics than you thought.

Learning Outcome: Explain and analyze the key elements of leadership skills, power, and politics

Deborah Ancona’s Four Essential Leadership Capabilities

Effective leaders must be adaptable, especially in turbulent and uncertain times.

  • Sense-making involves releasing old leadership models and embracing changes as they occur.
  • Relating requires open communication and visibility.
  • Visioning involves creating a sense of urgency to promote quick actions and a lively business atmosphere.
  • Inventing enables leaders and employees to be creative and innovative. Distributed leadership—enabling employees at all levels to contribute their ideas—results in more effective and productive outcomes.

Five Themes for Effective Leadership from Jeff Immelt (GE CEO)

  1. Reordering: In the early 1980s, developed countries were responsible for 80% of the world’s economic growth. In the following decade, 80% of economic growth came from emerging markets, a pattern that shows no signs of abating. Europe’s economic crisis will likely continue for the next five to ten years with the vast majority of countries on that continent experiencing stagnated economic growth and increasing levels of unemployment.
  2. Productivity and Cost: It is difficult satiate the demands stemming from the current emerging market boom, but global businesses will rise to the challenge, offering an entire generation of lower cost, higher quality technologies, which will be sold in greater quantities to the world’s poor.
  3. Resource Scarcity: With many of the world’s natural resources on the verge of depletion, As current resource avenues dry up, the business world needs to be prepared for new developments and ongoing discoveries in these key markets. New partnerships and transnational economic cooperation are desperately needed in order to ensure that these resources are properly allocated and utilized.
  4. We Live in a Networked World: Information technology is the future—it’s that simple. The importance of creating business networks and using technology’s capacity to support joint ventures and business collaboration is important.
  5. The State of the Economy: Over 30 years ago, there was very little government impact on the business world. That is no longer the case. Governments today are directly involved in business dealings and financial reform policies more so than we have ever seen before. Instead of business leaders seeking ways in which they might break free of their government yokes, executives should explore opportunities in which the government and the business world can establish mutually beneficial relationships. Leaders must at all times consider the codependent relationship that now exists between the government and the corporate world.

Qualities for Leadership & Development

  1. Analytical Listening: A good leader is a good listener. Managers should constantly seek out advice from other leaders within their organizations and from those employees with whom they work directly. By taking a diverse, multilevel approach to a problem, managers should be able to establish a number of options, allowing them to weigh the benefits and costs of each course of action before making their final decisions.
  2. Adaptability and Perseverance: The world is a very volatile place. A good leader must know how to manage that volatility and be able to guide their employees through the difficult times. A leader may be required to change his or her leadership style in order to accommodate changes to the workplace environment and organizational priorities.
  3. Being Open to Managing Relationships and Connections: Information is the key to knowledge, and technology has made it exceptionally easy for leaders to stay informed. Be a good partner with other companies and the government. Leaders should look to build lasting relationships with individuals and organizations outside of their organization. Networking greatly increases the odds of forming new partnerships which tend to be mutually beneficial to all of those involved.
  4. The Ability to Simplify Everything: Simplify all processes. Structures, metrics, and methods for accountability should all be clearly defined and readily accessible. This simple act will facilitate greater understanding and focus throughout the entire organization.
  5. Being a Systems Thinker: A leader must be a problem solver—having vision is not nearly enough to succeed in this day and age. By being a systems thinker, a leader can incorporate all available data and relevant information into the decision-making process.
  6. Having Courage and Patience: Important new initiatives and projects tend to take a lot of time to come into fruition. A good leader has the patience to see a solution through to its end. A good leader will have the vision and dedication to recognize this reality and to clearly explain the potential benefits that can be had in the long term.
  7. The Ability to Understand How Things Fail: A good leader takes the time to have conversations with their subordinates, in advance, about what possible failures that might occur on a given project. This approach will help in designing systems that are reliable and consistent. If potential failures are known of in advance, then processes can be put into place in order to mitigate their effects or to help avoid them all together.
  8. Knowing How to Manage Those Who Are Different Than You: In any corporation, there are people from a wide variety of backgrounds and skill sets. An effective leader will take the time to get to know and understand hourly workers, those in sales, those in payroll, etc. By doing so, a leader can gain a greater understanding of the job, its tasks, and how to effectively motivate the employees in those positions.
  9. Being Able to Lead From the Front: A good leader should be accountable for his or her actions. They should seek to embody every characteristic that makes their organization stand out against the competition.
  10. The Ability to Like and Care About Others: By treating employees with respect and dignity, a leader will close the gap between his/her subordinates, cultivating a greater sense of community throughout the organization. People are deeply affected by the fact that their leaders actually care about them and their successes. Showing your employees that you care is just one of many ways to improve moral and boost your personal influence.

Three Fatal Areas (by Warren Bennis)

There are three primary areas in which leaders may experience failure. In each of these contexts there exist a variety of knowns and unknowns that are useful to consider. These areas of interest are outlined as follows:

A. Knowing Others

Leaders tend to exhibit a certain degree of arrogance after years of success and power, an attribute that often leads to a communications disconnect with their subordinates and coworkers. Failure to connect with others has led to the downfall of many great leaders. Not listening is very commonplace, and this can be a leader’s fatal flaw. Today’s leaders should focus on the events around them, paying critical attention to both their subordinates and coequals.

B. Contextual Intelligence

Contextual intelligence refers to one’s capacity to accurately identify all of the essential factors in an event or situation; this includes evaluating factors accurately, developing an appropriate strategy for future action, and responding as appropriate. The proliferation of advanced technology, changing global economies, and improved accountability to corporate stakeholders has drastically increased the variables that play into each and every one of these situations. As such, leaders need to explore the vast areas to which they are unfamiliar. The failure of a leader to effectively identify and analyze these factors can result in poor or inappropriate decisions.

C. The Self

The self drives our ambitions and aspirations. Having self awareness requires introspection, open and honest communication with others, and a willingness to respond to negative feedback. Unfortunately, many leaders find self awareness very difficult to attain, resulting in actions and behaviors that can lead to failure. It is not uncommon to confuse experience with self-awareness; leaders should be careful to understand how their actions affect others and fit into the organization as a whole.


  1. Power is the ability to influence the behavior of others to get what you want.
  2. Conformity manifests itself in several ways, and research shows that people will defer to a group even when they may know that what they are doing is inaccurate or unethical. Having just one person dissent helps to buffer this effect. The more dependent someone is on you, the more power you have over them.
  3. Dependency is increased when you possess something that is considered scarce, important, and non substitutable by others.

Six Sources of Power

  1. Legitimate Power
  • Legitimate power is power that comes from one’s organizational role or position.
  1. Reward Power
  • Reward power is the ability to grant a reward, such as an increase in pay, a perk, or an attractive job assignment. Reward power tends to accompany legitimate power and is highest when the reward is scarce.
  1. Coercive Power
  • Coercive power is the ability to take something away or punish someone for noncompliance. Coercive power often works through fear, and it forces people to do something that ordinarily they would not choose to do.
  1. Expert Power
  • Expert power comes from knowledge and skill. Steve Jobs has expert power from his ability to know what customers want—even before they can articulate it.
  1. Information Power
  • Information power is similar to expert power but differs in its source. Experts tend to have a vast amount of knowledge or skill, whereas information power is distinguished by access to specific information.
  1. Referent Power
  • Referent power stems from the personal characteristics of the person such as the degree to which we like, respect, and want to be like them. Referent power is often called charisma—the ability to attract others, win their admiration, and hold them spellbound.

Commonly Used Influence Tactics

Researchers have identified distinct influence tactics and discovered that there are few differences between the way bosses, subordinates, and peers use them. There are nine influence tactics (rational persuasion, legitimizing, personal appeals, exchange, integration, pressure, coalitions, inspirational appeals, consultation). Responses to influence attempts include resistance, compliance, or commitment.

  1. Rational persuasion includes using facts, data, and logical arguments to try to convince others that your point of view is the best alternative. This is the most commonly applied influence tactic. Effective rational persuasion includes the presentation of factual information that is clear and specific, relevant, and timely.
  2. Inspirational appeals seek to tap into our values, emotions, and beliefs to gain support for a request or course of action. Effective inspirational appeals are authentic, personal, big-thinking, and enthusiastic.
  3. Consultation refers to the influence agent’s asking others for help in directly influencing or planning to influence another person or group. Consultation is most effective in organizations and cultures that value democratic decision making.
  4. Ingratiation refers to different forms of making others feel good about themselves. Ingratiation includes any form of flattery done either before or during the influence attempt.
  5. Personal appeal refers to helping another person because you like them and they asked for your help. We enjoy saying yes to people we know and like.
  6. Exchange refers to give-and-take in which someone does something for you, and you do something for them in return.
  7. Coalition tactics refer to a group of individuals working together toward a common goal to influence others.
  8. Pressure refers to exerting undue influence on someone to do what you want or else something undesirable will occur. This often includes threats and frequent interactions until the target agrees. Pressure tactics are most effective when used in a crisis situation and when they come from someone who has the other’s best interests in mind, such as getting an employee to an employee assistance program to deal with a substance abuse problem.
  9. Legitimating tactics occur when the appeal is based on legitimate or position power. “By the power vested in me…”: This tactic relies upon compliance with rules, laws, and regulations. It is not intended to motivate people but to align them behind a direction. People want to be convinced that the person is an authority worth heeding. Authority is often used as a last resort. If it does not work, you will not have much else to draw from in your goal to persuade someone.

Responses to Influence Attempts

Learning Outcome: Discuss the stages of team development and the dynamics of managing teams, and apply these concepts to a specific example

In organizations, groups can be classified into two basic types: informal and formal. Informal work groups are made up of two or more individuals who are associated with one another in ways not prescribed by the formal organization. Formal work groups are made up of managers, subordinates, or both with close associations among group members that influence the behavior of individuals in the group.

Groups go through developmental stages much like individuals. The Forming-Storming-Norming-Performing-Adjourning Model is useful in prescribing stages that groups should pay attention to as they develop.

  1. Forming - the group comes together for the first time. The members may already know each other or they may be total strangers. Because of the large amount of uncertainty, members tend to be polite, conflict avoidant, and observant. They are trying to figure out the “rules of the game” without being too vulnerable. They are trying to get to know one another. Often this can be accomplished by finding some common ground. Members also begin to explore group boundaries to determine what will be considered acceptable behavior
  2. Storming - Participants focus less on keeping their guard up as they shed social facades, becoming more authentic and more argumentative. Group members begin to explore their power and influence, and they often stake out their territory by differentiating themselves from the other group members rather than seeking common ground. Discussions can become heated as participants raise conflicting points of view and values, or disagree over how tasks should be done and who is assigned to them. It is not unusual for group members to become defensive, competitive, or jealous. They may take sides or begin to form cliques within the group. Although little seems to get accomplished at this stage, it actually serves an important purpose: group members are becoming more authentic as they express their deeper thoughts and feelings.
  3. Norming - Group members often feel elated at this point, and they are much more committed to each other and the group’s goal. Feeling energized by knowing they can handle the “tough stuff”, group members are now ready to get to work. Finding themselves more cohesive and cooperative, participants find it easy to establish their own ground rules (or norms ) and define their operating procedures and goals. The group tends to make big decisions, while subgroups or individuals handle the smaller decisions. It is hoped at this point the group members are more open and respectful toward each other and willing to ask one another for both help and feedback. They may even begin to form friendships and share more personal information.
  4. Performing - Galvanized by a sense of shared vision and a feeling of unity, the group is ready to go into high gear. Members are more interdependent, individuality and differences are respected, and group members feel themselves to be part of a greater entity. At the Performing stage, participants are not only getting the work done, but they also pay greater attention to how they are doing it. Group leaders can finally move into coaching roles and help members grow in skill and leadership.
  5. Adjourning - Just as groups form, so do they end. For example, many groups or teams formed in a business context are project-oriented and therefore are temporary. Alternatively, a working group may dissolve because of an organizational restructuring. For those who like routine and bond closely with fellow group members, this transition can be particularly challenging. Group leaders and members alike should be sensitive to handling these endings respectfully and compassionately. An ideal way to close a group is to set aside time to debrief (“How did it all go? What did we learn?”), acknowledge one another, and celebrate a job well done.

The Punctuated-Equilibrium Model of group development argues that groups often move forward during bursts of change after long periods without change. Groups that are similar, stable, small, supportive, and satisfied tend to be more cohesive than groups that are not. Cohesion can help support group performance if the group values task completion, but too much cohesion can also be a concern for groups. The factors affecting group cohesion include:

  1. Similarity. The more similar group members are in terms of age, sex, education, skills, attitudes, values, and beliefs, the more likely the group will bond.
  2. Stability . The longer a group stays together, the more cohesive it becomes.
  3. Size . Smaller groups tend to have higher levels of cohesion.
  4. Support. When group members receive coaching and are encouraged to support their fellow team members, group identity strengthens.
  5. Satisfaction. Cohesion is correlated with how pleased group members are with one another’s performance, behavior, and conformity to group norms.

Social Loafing increases as groups become larger. When collective efficacy is high, groups tend to perform better.

Establishing Team Norms and Contracts

A key to successful team design is to have clear norms, roles, and expectations among team members. Norms are shared expectations about how things operate within a group or team. Just as new employees learn to understand and share the assumptions, norms, and values that are part of an organization’s culture, they also must learn the norms of their immediate team. This understanding helps teams be more cohesive and perform better. Norms are a powerful way of ensuring coordination within a team.

Questions that can help to create a meaningful team contract include:

  1. Team Values and Goals: What are our shared team values? What is our team goal?
  2. Team Roles and Leadership: Who does what within this team? (Who takes notes at the meeting? Who sets the agenda? Who assigns tasks? Who runs the meetings?) Does the team have a formal leader? If so, what are his or her roles?
  3. Team Decision Making: How are minor decisions made? How are major decisions made?
  4. Team Communication: Who do you contact if you cannot make a meeting? Who communicates with whom? How often will the team meet?
  5. Team Performance: What constitutes good team performance? What if a team member tries hard but does not seem to be producing quality work? How will poor attendance/work quality be dealt with?

Barriers to Effective Teams

Barriers to effective teams include the challenges of knowing where to begin, dominating team members, the poor performance of team members, and poorly managed team conflict.

  1. Challenges of Knowing Where to Begin : At the start of a project, team members may be at a loss as to how to begin. Also, they may have reached the end of a task but are unable to move on to the next step or put the task to rest. Team leaders can help move the team past floundering by asking, “What is holding us up? Do we need more data? Do we need assurances or support? Does anyone feel that we’ve missed something important?”.
  2. Dominating Team Members : Some team members may have a dominating personality that encroaches on the participation or airtime of others. This overbearing behavior may hurt the team morale or the momentum of the team. A good way to overcome this barrier is to design a team evaluation to include a “balance of participation” in meetings. Knowing that fair and equitable participation by all will affect the team’s performance evaluation will help team members limit domination by one member and encourage participation from all members, even shy or reluctant ones. Team members can say, “We’ve heard from Mary on this issue, so let’s hear from others about their ideas”.
  3. Poor Performance of Some Team Members : In situations in which the poor performer is perceived as lacking in ability, teams are more likely to train the member. In situations in which members perceive the individual as simply being low on motivation, they are more likely to try to motivate or reject the poor performer.
  4. Poorly Managed Team Conflict : Disagreements among team members are normal and should be expected. Healthy teams raise issues and discuss differing points of view because that will ultimately help the team reach stronger, more well-reasoned decisions.Ideally, teams should be designed to avoid bringing adversaries together on the same team. If that is not possible, the next best solution is to have adversaries discuss their issues privately, so the team’s progress is not disrupted. The team leader or other team member can offer to facilitate the discussion. One way to make a discussion between conflicting parties meaningful is to form a behavioral contract between the two parties.