Team Building and Conflict Resolution Term Paper

Excerpt from Term Paper :

It is at the top because it is the only block that can be removed without disturbing the rest. Participative leadership means that leaders share the responsibility and the glory, are supportive and fair, create a climate of trust and openness, and are good coaches and teachers" Overall, it means that leaders act as positive role models and that the leadership moves at varying times. For teams to be most productive, it is difficult to identify a leader during a casual observation. The result: in a successful company that reaches its strategic goals, the high-performing team members can achieve more together than all the individuals can apart on their own.

Intagliata, Ulrich, and Smallwood stated that leaders need to be "branded," just as a company is, or, that is, have distinct qualities. Developing product brand in marketing is differentiating the product from other products of the same type. Leadership brand occurs when leaders at all levels of the organization clearly recognize the results that are the most important, develop an overall consistency about how they will attain these results, and then build qualities that line up with the accomplishment of these results. In brief, this takes place when personal attribute building integrates with achieving business results, or as Ulrich, Zenger and Smallwood stated: Effective Leadership= Attributes x Results.

Each company defines the leadership qualities that are essential based on its mission and strategy. The leadership brand thus becomes an integrated part into the daily activities of the organization. Companies that recognize the importance of teambuilding, for example, will define those leadership traits in line with this need. Thus, for example, the competency for this organization may be that a leader, "Enables team members to take ownership of their work and celebrates their successes so that talented employees feel more committed to their work team as measured by their retention and by an employee commitment index." This approach to competency definition assures that, from the beginning, people are considering desired results, not just desired behaviors.

Jassawalla and Sa*****tal agreed that the leadership needed for building teams have to have certain attributes, styles or competencies to effectively handle the specific challenges they face in their roles. The first challenge is to build commitment to the team and teamwork through motivation and encouragement. Research finds that successful teams begin by gaining employee commitment to the new structure by training and continuous teambuilding and holding frequent team meetings, so all members have opportunities to get their ideas heard. Giving team members the autonomy to set their own goals and make decisions also provides them with a sense of ownership toward those aims

Leaders in high-effective organizations also reinforce the connection between the team members' level of involvement and the extent to which they commit to the team's collaborative goals. People are more prone to make a commitment when they believe they have control over their own participation and influence on how the team makes decisions. Understanding this need, leaders will take myriad of actions to develop this sense of control and belongingness. Similarly, while teams are empowered to make decisions that impact their operations, leaders are responsible for making sure the organization and team goals are aligned. Significant resources are designed toward training and teambuilding programs that are aimed at transforming department representatives into high caliber team members. They also make sure that there is a cross-functional teamwork structure, so that there is a mutual learning process and sharing of best practices.

Leadership and Communication

As noted above, the study of conflict resolution goes hand-in-hand with teambuilding, since teams are an effective way to manage conflict within an organization and keep it at its minimum for most productivity. Efficiently handling workplace conflicts is a key competency for success in any job role. Conflict in organizations is not a problem, but can actually be beneficial because of the differences of outlook and perspective. Well-managed conflict results in more creative, strategic, innovative, communicative and committed employees to the organization. Companies should not try to prevent conflict, but rather emphasize ways to prevent unresolved or destructive conflict.

One of the most important traits that leaders can have to manage conflict in an organization is communication. A study by Flauto suggested that communication competence is a prerequisite for effective leadership. In the study, one-hundred-fifty-one employees in nine separate companies rated the level of their immediate supervisor's communication competence and used a three-dimensional integrated leadership model that categorized that manager's perceived leadership effectiveness. All of the leadership dimensions, in addition to the model as a whole, was highly correlated with competent communication the supervisor.

This research responded to the global question, "How are communication leadership linked?" The participants in the organizations completed self-report instruments to rate their leaders' behavior across three dimensions and their leaders' communication competence across two dimensions. The traits for communication were defined as a combination of transactional transformational communication and the quality of exchange in leader-member dyads. This model was used to categorize the participants' perceptions of their leaders' effectiveness, and this effectiveness assessment was related to the members' perceptions of leaders' communication competence.

The same patterns were seen across all of the nine organizations. Each of the leadership dimensions were linked with communication competence, clearly showing that communication competence is a prerequisite for effective leadership. The three aspects that make up transformational leadership, or charisma, individual consideration, and intellectual stimulation, are based on communication. Transformational leadership is of high quality when the leader exhibits high communication competency. Dyads with high communication competence and low transformational leadership and those with low communication competence and high transformational leadership are non-existent.

There are certain communication skills that are important for leaders to have. One of the most important is the ability to truly listen to what a person is saying. This necessitates using the senses to hear and see the expression and body language that conveys the information and acknowledge and clarify that it has been seen, the brain to assimilate this information, and the body to demonstrate that it is understood and accepted.

It is also important in communication to think in equal terms. That is, win/win -- not, "I win and you lose." Then is the desire to try to understand the position of the other party, not just try to get one's own message across. A lot of power comes from showing openness and appreciation of the other person's position. Then the person perceives the other individual and the willingness to accept another position. The ultimate goal is to be able to explain the other person's position as well as one's own.

Positive communication requires recognizing that no one can accomplish anything by him or herself. It emphasizes the knowledge of the ultimate importance of building relationships in both one's personal and professional life. Good listening skills are essential in building relationships. Similarly, leadership communication qualities include empathy. The goal is to first seek to understand and then, and only then, to be understood by another. It is important also to realize that empathy is not sympathy, to understand is not necessarily to agree, and that empathy is a skill that can be learned and practiced.

Types of Internal Conflicts

As previously noted, leaders are needed to build teams that deal with internal problems, such as personnel conflicts. Leaders need strong communication skills in order to build these teams and to help the team members work toward resolving the conflicts that arise. There are different types of conflicts that can occur. According to Larson and Myers, conflicts can be placed into the categories of relational, process oriented, and task oriented. Relational conflicts are described as interpersonal or affective. They consist of conflicts about the relationship that occurs between the conflict partners, rather than about the organization, duties, or work products. These types of conflicts often arise from power perceptions of power, or the lack of such power.

Process conflicts develop from disagreement that occurs from the completion of work duties or projects. Here, the emphasis is on the way to accomplish organizational goals, rather than on the goals themselves. Thirdly, task conflict, also referred to as substantive conflict, consists of disagreements that take place in regards to the fundamental goals of a group or organization, where individuals begin to clash over the outcome, purpose, or goals of a specific program or project.

Relational, process, and task conflict vary not only in the locus of concern or disagreement, that is, power, processes and goals, but also regarding the affect on employee satisfaction and performance. Jehn found that groups developed norms that allowed task conflict normally acceptable and resolvable with little negative impact. Actually, moderate to high levels of task conflict can result in having the group increase their levels of performance. However, the same is not true with relational and process conflict, both that are found to be barriers to employee satisfaction and performance.

Effective communication can be the key to resolving conflict. On the other…

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