Leading teams in uncertain environments part 1

And to illustrate how a leader might change his/her approach, using an example from experience, with the use of Kelley’s (1988) “followership styles to compare and contrast my example.” To fully understand the content, it is essential to point out the difference between leadership and management. They are both used interchangeably, which causes an ineffective application of the framework. I will term effective leadership as an individual, who can lead himself/herself first and inspire people or organizations to be in a position of advantage. i.e. to produce a better service or product, which satisfies consumers, generating value for all stakeholders. While management can be defined as people, who use the act of communication, in achieving the goal of an organization, with careful consideration of resources available to them.

Usually, it focuses on what needs to be done and does not pay attention to how it is being done. For this reason, one may state that a project manager can be a leader and a manager. However, our current environment requires a professional, who is not just competent in his/her field but also is a leader. Given, prepping and executing a project necessitates an environment, which is conducive for all stakeholders, this calls for constant change that can only be completed by a leader who can transform the situation of the environment. Thus, one will require transformational leadership as Dvir (2002) defined, which is why the personalities of stakeholders should be taken into consideration when planning or managing a project. Andrew (2005) stated, different personality types for individuals, some who focus on high details, who do not settle for less till a task meets all requirements. Some are relation oriented, i.e. these individuals are result oriented, and they create plans only when there is substantial evidence.

More so, because of cultural, religious, ethnic, national characteristics, political differences… etc. The leaders need to adjust their actions to interact with different types of followers to improve the chances of project success. Divir (2002) research shows that transformational form of leadership promotes homogeneity among direct and indirect followers. Also, it is said that it increases the performance and effectiveness within the organization because people are motivated and they feel empowered. For example, over the years when managing projects, my resources are spread around the world and are attributed to ‘globalization.’ The form of leadership when managing a project depends on the group of individuals. i.e. high context and low context cultures. When dealing with high-context people, I tend to spend more time in explaining briefs and other project requirements.  One may conclude that high-context, demographics are prone to vulnerability, such as communication issues since it is said that this context group prefers indirect communication. However, when I’m dealing with resources with low-context culture, I can be direct with my communication to a significant degree (Brett, 2011). Although, given that these two sets of cultures must work together for a project success, I often find ways of bringing these two research cultures into ‘partnership.’

This affirms Kelley’s (1988) statement, on how the role of a leader is to help educate followers to be effective. However, the writer went further to explain; followers should also learn the need to cover for an ineffective leader, through the expression of their skills (Andy, 2016). Since in some instances, the leader ‘project manager’ may be weak not by choice, but by the lack of understanding of issues like the cultural differences. More so, as Kelley (1988) mentioned, these effective followers in some instances “think for themselves and carry out their duties and assignments with energy and assertiveness.” The writer suggested that this type of individuals are independent to solve problems and are risk takers, one may consider the low context culture individuals to fit this profile. However, high-context culture in some instances could be said to be alienated followers because they are critical in thinking and are independent, although can be found to be passive when conducting their role. For this reason, when these sets of resources are working on a project, they quickly get turned off and may lead to opposition to the leader. For this reason, as Meredith and Mantel (2014) stated in Chapter 4, a project manager should understand this behavior and adapt to situations at hand. Also, this is useful during a negotiation and creates a high performing team (Cohen, and Keren, 2013; 50 Lessons, 2005).

Further Reading

Andy M., (2016) Cultural Differences Are More Complicated than What Country You’re From [Online] Available from: https://hbr.org/2016/01/cultural-differences-are-more- complicated-than-what-country-youre-from [Accessed: February 11, 2016]

Brett R., (2011) Cultural Differences ­ High Context versus Low Context[Online] Available from: http://thearticulateceo.typepad.com/my-blog/2011/08/cultural- differences-high-context-versus-low-context.html [Accessed: February 11, 2016]

Cohen, Y., Ornoy, H. & Keren, B. (2013) ‘MBTI personality types of project managers and their success: a field survey’, Project Management Journal, 44 (3), pp. 78-87. [Online] Available from: ebscohost.com [Accessed: February 11, 2016]

Dvir, T., Eden, D., Avolio, B.J. & Shamir, B. (2002) ‘Impact of transformational leadership on follower development and performance: a field experiment’, Academy of Management Journal, 45 (4), pp. 735-744. [Online] Available from: ebscohost.com [Accessed: February 11, 2016]

50 Lessons (2005) Creating a High-Performance Team [Media]. Nashua, NH: SkillSoft. [Accessed: February 11, 2016]

Meredith, J.R. & Mantel, S.J. (2014). Project management – a managerial approach. 9th ed. New York: John Wiley & Sons.

Kelley, R.E. (1988) In praise of followers. Harvard Business Review, 66 (6), pp. 142-148. [Online] Available from: https://hbr.org/1988/11/in-praise-of-followers [Accessed: February 11, 2016]