Under the conditions of modern society the concept of leadership is affected by the new dimensions. Today leaders are forced to act under total and constant pressures while leading group through a change. Many of the groups are culturally diverse which only adds fuel to the fire. By means of case study analyzing, this paper will specifically focus on the new role and meaning of the leadership in the modern age and determine the key issues associated wit leading a multicultural group through changes.
There are many issues that negatively affect the work of the presented team and deteriorate its productivity and chances for success. In any case, all of them have different roots and require a separate examination and tools to be used for their solving. It should be also stressed that the group is limited by many external and internal factors. The internal include the diversity, that could be viewed as both, positive and negative feature of the team, the tensions between the generations; inability to adopt to the work under the new conditions of digitized world; the imbalance of female-male representatives etc. The external factor that might impact the productivity of the team and overall environment surrounding its activities involve the amount of costs assigned for the activities of the group; the social value of the operations performed by the team and the importance of the final product, time limitations set for the team and the ever-changing environment requiring everyone to remain competitive and highly productive.
The decision making in this case would not be participatory since the team is not going to adjust its daily operations to the new rules or norms. In fact, there are many open or hidden conflicts that should be resolved by the leader with the limited participation of those who are actually involved in this conflicts in the most part. Additionally, it should be stressed that the leader has to adopt the strategies for entering this team which has already established a hostile attitude towards him. In order to normalize the work activities the leader might consider the participation of the few members in a decision making process. Yet, he has to assure that such participation is totally justified and that other members of the team would not consider someone to be privileged against others.
Finally, as has been already noted, the team is going trough the process of transformation and leadership changes, and there are many issues that should be addressed separately and gradually. The action plan below would be constructed in such a way that the most urgent issues would be discussed at the beginning and less important, respectively, at the end of it. At the same time, it should be stressed that the solving of all the problems is key for the effective performance and collaboration of the given team.
Action Plan: Issue #1 Resistance to Accept the New Leader
The resistance to accept the new leader and recognize his or her influence is tightly connected with the resistance to changes. The latter usually bring the new rules, the alterations of the established relations, configurations and schemes. All the players of the teams try to protect themselves from the changes that are on the run and isolate themselves from the new leader. Moreover, many employees might be concerned about their professional future and about the impact the new leader might have on them. In some cases, the previous leaders and employees might have been personally connected and the change of leadership might be perceived as the personal drama (Swenson, 2013). Yet, all of these misconceptions should be combated in order to ensure the proper communications between the leader and the team members and the fruitful cooperation.
To fight the resistance, a team leader has to realize that he actually possess the different view of the leadership which the team members are not able to see. Before starting the collaboration and interactions the leader has to explain to everyone that he represents no threat for the positive tendencies that exist within the team. The new leader should also stress on the fact that the professional roles of the team members will also not be affected by him leading the team. Additionally, the participation of the team members in the decision making process in regard to the issues that affect their daily activities might also raise the chances for success. The new leader has also to explain the reasons for the appointing of the new leader and explain that it has been done in the best interests of the organization and every employee.
Action Plan: Issue #2 The Burning Conflict
The conflicts in the workplace occur on the everyday basis. Some of them are insignificant while others might have a devastating effects on the entire team. In order to silence the conflicts, the team leader has to follow such steps. First, he should take the pause in the conflict and isolate the parties to the conflict to let them cool off. The biggest mistake here occurs when someone looses his or her temper and starts to say or even scream the offensive and frequently not true statements (McConnon, 2008). If necessary, the leader might disengage the conflicting parties and separate them. At the second phrase, the leader should let everyone speak frankly and openly about the issue of the conflict and the ways for managing it (McConnon, 2008). Often, the parties do not even consider the possibility of listening to each other opinions therefore, the leader should offer them such an opportunity.
The gossips should also be discouraged in the workplace as they only add fuel to the flame and bring new tiring facts on the table. The the leader should help the parties to the conflict to separate the personal issues from the ones related to the work (McConnon, 2008). Such a distinction would actually give a clue regarding the possible tool that would be used for the resolution. Then the leader should take the stand and explain the negative consequences of the conflict for the organization and each employee in particular. He should stress on the necessity of reaching the compromise. In extreme cases, the leader might consider hiring the professional mediator to deal with the conflict in question.
Action Plan: Issue #3 Lack of Motivation of Key Member
The case study shows that John and Julie are job hunting, yet they possess the abilities and skills that are critical for the success of the entire project. Thus, these employees should be encouraged to remain within this team. in order to deal with this situation, both the leadership and motivational theories could be employed.
As to the leadership, the transformational or either participative approaches could be used. The transformational approach is used for the teams that experience lack of money and should appeal to other motivators than financial. The transformational leaders are usually extremely charismatic and they literary inject the energy in their followers with every word they say. The transformational leaders frequently deliver the inspirational speeches about the unique mission of the organization and the important role of everyone. They do never forget to appreciate the efforts of the team members and praise them in front of others.
The participative leadership refers more to the delegation of the authority and engagement of the employees into the decision making processes. Many workers would appreciate the opportunity to participate in the policy-making processes as they frequently complain that the top managers are unaware oft he issues that are important for the employees down the line.
As to the motivation, two theories could also be applied here. The first one refers to the classic Hierarchy of Needs introduced by Abraham Maslow (Steel & Konig, 2006 ). All the needs human beings have he has divided into five categories and structured into a pyramid. At the very bottom of it are the physiological needs, then safety needs, the need of belonging, self actualization and the need for self realization. Maslow states that once the needs are satisfied they no longer serve as a source for motivation. Therefore, in order to leverage benefits from the self-actualization needs of the employees the leader has to ensure that all other needs are satisfied. It could be performed through the auditing of the working conditions, environment, rules, relations etc.
Another theory involves the needs as well. McCelland also stated that there were three needs that motivate the employees (Steel & Konig, 2006). He asserted that there are those employees who need achievement. They need the ongoing feedback and sense for accomplishment. These employees must be praised for the efforts they make on constant basis. The employees that need power would work better in case they would be provided with the opportunity to occupy managerial posts or at lease exercise control over others. The third category of the employees includes those who treasure the relations with others above all. Therefore, in order to motivate these employees the leader should establish trustworthy relations with them. In the presented case study the leader has to determine the unsatisfied needs of these two employees and find out the way for motivating them (Steel & Konig, 2006).
Action Plan: Issue #4 Diversity
The diversity in the workplace could be seen as both, the advantage or disadvantage. Yet, developing the diversity leadership the person that leads the group should demonstrate certain behaviors on a regular basis towards all employees. These behaviors will help to minimize the possible tensions among the employees or prevent them in general (Billings-Harris,2007). First it is crucial to learn the professional aspirations of all team members and support their efforts in achieving them. Even if there are no huge opportunities for the career development of these employees, the lively interest in their career and the assistance in its development will be gladly appreciated by any employee.
While managing the diverse teams the leaders should also create the opportunities for the highly talented employees to be exposed to the leaders and have direct access to them. The building of the cross-functional team might also be helpful in this regard since it is beneficial for the overall innovation potential of the organizations. The leader might also encourage the volunteering for the community projects that teach tolerance (Billings-Harris,2007). By doing this, the team would be protected against the racism and hate in the workplace as well as strengthen from the inside by performing many manual, yet, important functions.
The leader should also delegate his or her powers fairly. The possible outbursts of intolerance or disrespectful behavior should be communicated and admonished immediately. This actually should be an ongoing behavior of the leader who aims to teach his or her employees tolerance and respect in the workplace (Billings-Harris,2007). The performance of the employees should be evaluated objectively and be based on the same indicators for everyone. Additionally, the true leader should anticipate the effects of the policies adopted by the organization and consider the needs and interests of the employees while drafting those policies. All of theses steps and behaviors will ensure that the organization would be protected against the conflicts based on the diversity of team members and facilitate the work among the diverse employees (Billings-Harris,2007).
Action Plan: Issue #5 Insignificant Role of Female
As could be noted from the description of the team, the males prevail. They ar actually older than women and, thus, they could refer to many more or less authoritative concepts. Additionally they might suppress the role of women within the team as they are, in fact, stronger and more noticeable than women. The imbalance between the gender roles within the group might result in many negative consequences among which are the decreased productivity, disengagement at work, hostility, absenteeism, high turnover rate etc. To prevent all these outcomes from occurring, the leader has to ensure that the harmony between these roles is preserved and that both, men and women, enjoy the same scope of rights, opportunities and benefits in the workplace. No special treatment should be provided neither for men nor for women. Everyone is equal and should be treated with respect and dignity.
Action Plan: Issue #6 Tensions between Generations
There are many generations working shoulders by shoulders in the modern world. The researchers tend to divide the team members into the traditionalists, baby boomers, generation X and other categories. Yet, for the first time the humanity can experience the situation when the age difference reaches 60 or 80 years. Needless to say, that such a huge age difference affects the perceptions of the team members and their interactions. To silent the storm, the leader should listen the parties to the conflict in case it raises and establish the clear rules of the game that should be followed by everyone despite of age or physical abilities. As Condit (2006) notes the society itself tries to label groups like generations for the overall convenience. And, indeed, the people tend to identify themselves with the people who are closer socially or physically. Yet, the workplace sets another conditions and requirements, so that the collaboration and reaching the goals set forth are the critical moments. Thus, in order to improve the communication and interaction among various age groups within the team the leader has to focus om the ethics, collaboration, flexible structure, wellness benefits etc.
Action Plan: Issue #7 The Application of New Technology
One the teammates is complaining about the disrespect showed towards him by other members of the team due to his incompetence in the field of computers and informational technologies. Such a situation is typical when the representative of the old generation can not adjust to the new conditions. Yet, the teammates should realize that the expertise, skills and experience of such person are significant for the success of the entire team. in fact, the only thing that differs this old man from the rest refers to his inability to deal with the new technologies.
In order to lead this team through such an obvious change, the leader should hold the meeting where the following offers would be presented. First, he might ask everyone to recognize the value of the senior member of the team. It would encourage and motivate Tom and show his meaning and value to the rest of the team. Secondly, Tom should be recommended to take computer courses and finish it to become familiarized with the world of technologies. The team should also agree of using traditional methods of communication and data transferring during this transitional period. If accepted, this policy will help to harmonize the relations between the team members and increase its productivity and competitiveness.
The leadership and communication theories and approaches mentioned in this case study are believed to be effective tools for managing the problems that are tearing the group from inside. In order to strengthen the effects of these methods, the respective policies should be adopted by the top management of the organization. In general, it is believed that the mentioned tools would assist in resolving the conflicts within the team and ensure the fruitful cooperation and success of the project.