Did you know there is a difference between a team and group? The difference might be greater than you expected. I believe it is safe to say that mostly all individuals have been a part of some sort of team or group at a point in their life. I was talking to my wife the other day to see if she could guess the difference. Her response to the question was, “Um, I don’t know. I’d guess that a group is less personal and a team works better together doing the same task.” She was surprised when I told her the real differences, those that I learned in my #PSYCH485 course commentary this week.
A group involves a strong influence that is passed back and forth between two or more people that are working towards the same goal by completing the same task. It is possible for a person to be in multiple groups at a given time. A team is interdependent, and involves multiple people working towards one goal by each individual contributing in their own way. Although each member of a team is working on their own personal task, they still need one another to accomplish the main mission. (Lesson 9, p. 3). I was under the impression that I worked within a group at my workplace, but the understanding and knowledge I gained from my college course has made me aware that I work in a team because each of us have our own tasks that in the end complete a project.
Fun fact: it is possible for group and team members to share the role of leadership. This unique way of sharing leadership has a name that suits it better than any name could…Shared Leadership. As it might have become evident at this point, shared leadership involves all team members having equal say and contribution to ideas and final decisions. Research has found that shared leadership is more effective because each member has their own strengths to offer to the rest of the group. (Lesson 9, p. 10). In traditional leadership, there is one leader who directs the rest of the team. Traditional leadership shows a top-down model, where the leader tells his or her peers where to start and guides the process. At times there are leaders who are such by name only, and have their peers bring the ideas to them. This is referred to as the bottom-up model. The shared-leadership model creates equality in the organization, as each person brings their own influence to others.
I have not yet worked in an organization that offers shared leadership. It could be difficult having a management team sharing responsibility with a lower level employee within the company, but is that not the point of shared leadership – to have individuals from all walks of life to add value and new perspectives to accomplish the goal? Management that is willing to establish shared leadership would show they value their employees, as they would work together and build relationships rather than one person commanding and controlling their way through the project.
It seems that there is a place and time for shared leadership. For instance, when I was in the United States Marine Corps, we did not share leadership to advance in our missions. With the nature of our work, it was always time sensitive. Sitting down and collaborating and sharing thoughts, ideas and opinions would jeopardize mission success and who would be coming home safe or not. Sometimes, (in this particular situation) it is best to make a decision without hesitation and run with it. In this environment any decision is better than no decision. So case in point, uniformity was key for this employer. If there was any deviation there could be severe consequences. Now, there are R&D teams and course developers for schools within the Marine Corps that does take the collaborative approach to hear input from each field practitioner but that was the proper time and place. Overall, I believe shared leadership is beneficial to an organization since each member of the team can contribute their ideas and skills, but I do not think that every organization should adopt the concept of shared leadership for the business they are running.
Farag, Walid (2014). Boost Potential with Shared Authority and Lean Management. Retrieved on March 20, 2016 from: http://www.infoq.com/articles/shared- leadership
Pennsylvania State University (2016). Leadership in Work Settings—PSYCH 485. Online course lesson. Penn State World Campus. The Pennsylvania State University. Retrieved March 20, 2016 from https://courses.worldcampus.psu.edu/sp16/psych485/002/content/09_lesson/10_page.html