When you’re an individual contributor, you are measured on what you do, create or produce. Leading a team of people involves a real change in perspective. It’s about getting things done, inspiring people to go from your vision to action and encouraging and enabling people to perform. It takes a different set of skills, involves a different set of priorities and a clear understanding of the leader’s role. All of which are rarely taught in advance of becoming a leader. These courses make sure that new leaders are fully prepared for their new role.
From visionary to organiser to facilitator, the course uses case study scenarios to look at different leadership styles. It investigates which styles are most effective in different situations from change to crisis. It offers learners a framework for matching the most effective leadership style with the kind of task, the team’s stage of growth and an individual’s experience.
And it also gives learners a chance to practice the techniques with video case study examples.
There’s no one set of characteristics that define a good leader. The course explores fifteen skills and qualities using an interactive “build your own leader” device. Learners see how people view a leader with each skill or quality as both a strength and a weakness through the perspective of a team member.
If learners identify a development area they have, they can do a ‘deep dive’ to see how to “Bridge the Gap” and improve their skills and behaviours. Our learners also get the opportunity to identify the fifteen skills in action.
Teams change, grow, and mature over time. In general, teams follow a similar life-cycle with a number of stages of development. At each stage, there are good and bad points to watch for: the enthusiasm but uncertainty of initial formation, the energy but friction of the settling out stage, the confidence but “in/out groups” as the team normalises and the achievement but potential drift of performance.
Each stage needs different levels of input and direction. With the right balance of directive, facilitative and inspirational leadership, the team can move from low to high performance in as short a time as possible.
Using the ‘orming model as a framework (one of many), learners see how team life-cycle is linked to performance and how team growth isn’t necessarily a straightforward or straight line process. It needs skilful handling, the right balance of leadership styles, a good understanding of what can go wrong and great observational skills to analyse what’s happening.
Please note that although the ‘orming model is used as a framework, other models are indicated.
Video scenarios and identification questions allow learners to explore how teams feel and behave at each stage of growth. They see how problems can surface at each stage and during transitions so they can anticipate them. Crucially, they see how to smooth the progress from one stage to the next with the goal of reaching high performance quickly – without short changing any necessary business.
Trust is the cornerstone of open and honest team communication. Honest communication is an essential part of great teamwork. A strong culture and sense of community is built on a solid foundation of trust. And the team leader’s ability to influence, guide and lead begins with trust.
The course uses video case studies to demonstrate how a lack of trust can affect people’s participation, their willingness to take risks and to take responsibility because they aren’t prepared to make mistakes.
Video is also used to show how the leader can create the conditions that allow trust and supporting team relationships, no matter how different everyone is.
A team leader needs to create the conditions to maximise the level of team trust. The course underpins the elearning with two models.
Three routes to trust:
- Contractual – keeping your word
- Competence – having the skills, knowledge and resources to do the job proficiently
- Self-disclosure – practising open and honest communication
Trust “bank accounts”: recognising the day-to-day give and take between colleagues and customers that can affect your trust balance.
Understanding how individuals in the team see the world – their perceptions, drivers and values – helps the team leader build team relationships, dynamics and communication. It allows the leader to use the diversity of views in the team and better manage individual performance and development. The course explores different world views, how to build rapport and how to improve understanding between team members.
A solid team culture and sense of identity can give a team momentum and energy. In a strong and positive team culture, the team has a clear set of values, attitudes and expectations. They have positive dynamics and relationships; there’s a sound foundation of trust.
If a team’s culture is weak, the team will have to have strict and precise rules; people will not take risks, give discretionary effort or automatically “do the right thing”.
The leader’s role is pivotal in creating a strong cohesive team culture. That means prioritising people and the core behaviours, attitudes and actions below the surface of the iceberg. A pool table and bean bags are nice to have, but not real indicators of a team culture.
The elearning uses video to show how to infer a team’s culture from factors like the language it uses; the interactive planner gives learners a helpful framework for analysing their own team culture and identifying areas for improvement.
Building trust and culture, the eLearning uses video scenarios to help learners:
- Identify the impact of low trust in a team and the specific ways it affects individuals and their participation.
- Explore practical techniques on building an understanding of the way other people see the world and supporting diversity within a team.
- Review the elements of a team culture and see how they can be positive or negative factors in performance.
The interactive planner gives learners a place to capture their ideas for improving trust with every individual on their team, building better understanding and analysing their team culture.
To make sure a team grows through its stages from formation to peak performance, it needs a clear vision and purpose which everyone on the team understands and buys into.
Well-defined goals, which support the team’s purpose, give a team:
- A clear route to follow.
- Security because everyone knows what lies ahead.
- Motivation and forward momentum as well as clear measures of success and a sense of achievement.
To help make this point, the eLearning invites learners to play a simple computer game — with and without goals. This demonstrates, at an emotional level, how well goals and deadlines work to give direction, motivation and a way to track progress.
A leader is responsible for the vision, purpose and goals. They don’t have to set them personally: indeed, it’s better to involve the team in their creation and tracking. But they are ultimately responsible for them.
Our eLearning uses video and identification questions to explore how to:
- Set effective goals.
- Involve their team in establishing clear purpose and setting goals.
- How easy it is to have a very different views of the same goal.
- How to help everyone reach a common understanding of the team’s purpose and goal.
- Use goals to keep the team on track.
The interactive planner includes a simple framework for setting SMART goals with a team and tracking their progress.
Many of the tensions and conflicts that arise in a team can be traced back to unclear, ambiguous, or missing ground rules. The leader’s job is to make sure that ground rules are set, police them and fix them when they are infringed so that people feel safe and secure enough to communicate openly, solve problems creatively and perform at their peak.
Without guidelines, conflict is almost a certainty. Using a video case study of an ‘office spat’, this section covers ground rules – what they are, how to set them and how to police them.
It maps the typical agreements that a team needs into two broad areas: interpersonal (team/individual) and administrative (task). It gives examples of the ground rules and shows what happens when they are unclear and not set at all and offers some techniques to help fix issues.
Team dynamics is about the way people in a team interact and relate on a daily basis. In any group, people will often adopt or fall into distinct roles and behaviours.
In a team, how these roles and behaviours affect the other team members individually, and as a whole, is what is known as group dynamics. It’s complex and different in every different team. When team dynamics are positive, the team can achieve great things. When they are poor, the team is not only less effective, it’s less fun!
It’s obvious. In a team with positive group dynamics, the team members trust each other. The atmosphere is positive, constructive and productive. That doesn’t mean everyone agrees with each other all of the time – far from it. People trust each other enough to have different opinions and air them, debate them and come to collective and effective decisions.
In a team with poor group dynamics, the lack of trust and understanding can lead to, on one hand, conflict or on the other, false harmony. Either of which get in the way of effective problem solving and decision making.
A range of factors contribute to a team’s group dynamics. Three important ones are:
Do people feel pressure to conform to the majority view? Is there too much group think? Group think inhibits creativity and innovation.
How strong is the trust between team members and the leader? Is communication open and honest? Is there a strong sense of direction and purpose?
- Role identity
Are there disruptive ‘roles’ in the team? Do one or two people dominate team discussions and restrict full participation? Does one person always take a challenging approach whatever is under discussion? Or is there a person who tries to damp down disagreement before it can be used to uncover real issues?
The Improving Group Dynamics course explores the elements of conformity, cohesion and role identity.
To help learners understand the impact a group can make on an individual, they are asked a number of questions about the way they feel in groups and how it might affect their behaviour. They are asked to think about their teams and who might feel the pressure to conform and who might be an active non-conformist. Finally, learners are armed with some strategies that they can use to help every individual in their team participate fully.
To move a team from confrontation, to coexistence, from cooperation to cohesion, leaders need to:
- Be able to identify where their team lies on the continuum.
- Understand how to move from stage to stage.
Learners are asked to analyse the predominant relationships in a team using video scenarios which illustrate the behaviours to look for.
They are given a range of strategies to help them devise a relevant plan for their team.
Learners see four common team roles are in action. They see:
- The impact of the disruptive behaviour on the group.
- How not to react to it.
- How to minimise it or channel it into something more positive.