Another outsourced chapter—tough to be an expert on everything, I guess. Kogler Hill states: “The exact definition of which organizational group is a team or not is constantly evolving as organizations confront the many new forms of contemporary collaboration.” That is true even for the definition of what an organization is. For example, Hyperloop Technologies started out as a virtual organization composed entirely of teams. Management sought out specific individuals in high-tech fields and “hired” them to work ten hours a week on specific issues. Originally there was no pay, no benefits, just the promise of stock options once the company went public. Page 365: “Virtual teams especially benefit from shared leadership when the task is complex.” Perhaps that is why Hyperloop Technologies started with them. Trying to put a transportation car inside a vacuum tube so that you can send a train from Los Angeles to San Francisco in just thirty-minutes would seem to qualify as a complex task.
Kogler Hill does an impressive job of cataloging the benefits of teams to today’s organizations, and then, finally in paragraph five, gets down to relating the concept of teams to leadership. I find a couple of her observations to be particularly interesting.
She states, in part: “Team members step forward when situations warrant, providing the leadership necessary, and then step back to allow others to lead.” A remarkable facet of smoothly functioning teams. I have seen this in emergency response teams, particularly the Community Emergency Response Team of Woodford County. This is a federally sponsored program that exists in many locations throughout the U.S. The idea is to build a trained cadre of “second responders” who can step up in times of disaster and assist first responders. http://www.fema.gov/community-emergency-response-teams/ provides the specifics, so I won’t have to. My point is that I am a FEMA certified instructor and, in addition to teaching, I get to participate in FEMA and local exercises. In order to optimize training, we try to spread leadership of the teams around to various team members so that they can gain valuable leadership experience in a controlled situation. It constantly amazes me how fluidly these individuals can transition to being a team member, immediately after experiencing the exhilaration associated leading a team in something like fighting a fire, or triaging a group of twenty people after a simulated tornado strike on a building. One minute they are “large and in charge” making (simulated) life and death decision—literally who lives and who dies, and the next simulation they are cast in the role of a team member who merely relays commands over the radio—a glorified parrot.
Why is it so difficult for a leader to step out of the limelight and allow another person to “take over?”
She also states, in part: “Leaders must use discretion about which problems need intervention…” Incumbent in that statement is that leaders must use discretion about which problems do NOT need intervention. Kogler Hill seems to be saying that effective team leaders need to be able to discern the difference between when a situation calls for action, and when patience is required. Later, she continues: “The first decision confronting the team’s leadership is whether to keep observing the team or to take action to help the team.
Which leadership theory have we studied that pretty much calls for the same restraint under specific circumstances? How so?
How would you, as a leader, know which situation called for immediate and dynamic action, and which one called for patience?