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OBSERVE the Team Dynamics

A "powerteam" has energy and personality. It has motion and harmony. It is dynamic. The leader is the one who is with the team but is outside the structure and can observe the team's dynamics. The leader must always understand their important role as observer of the team's pulse.

Trust level: Ideas are personal and it takes a great deal of trust to share them with others. The members need to trust that the atmosphere is safe enough for them to take risks. Do some members seem to be holding back because they lack trust? Is there good reason for them to be careful about what they say?

Mutual respect: Synergy comes from mutual respect. Good teams have a sincere desire to hear the ideas and opinions of each of the other members because they truly believe each member has something im­portant to contribute to the team.

Leaders can begin to help the team build mutual respect by first observing the dynamics when the team works. Does each member seem to respect the contribution of the other members? If there seems to be a lack of respect, how is it being demonstrated?

Conflict resolution: In a free exchange of ideas there will always be differences that can cause conflict between members. Leaders must observe how the team handles the conflicts that come from dif­ferent opinions and styles.

Do they talk things out and resolve their conflicts with win-win kinds of agreements? When a conflict is over— has it really ended? Do the conflicts cut into the cohesiveness of the team?

Participation: If a team has eight members, then all eight mem­bers should participate. Anything less and the team will not be as ef­fective as it could be. The leader should always observe the partici­pation level of the team's members.

Is everyone on the team contribut­ing to the team's activities? Does one person, or two, or three tend to dominate all the discussions or decisions that are made? Observe the different styles of each of the members. Do the members help facilitate the quiet members as well as the more assertive into the discussions?

Cohesiveness: Many times a team can be divided by factions or groups that seem to be at odds with one another. Sometimes they are divided by strong differences of opinion or philosophies. Sometimes different friendships will just separate them naturally.

The leader needs to observe these dynamics for the good of the team. Is this really one team working together or are there "partnerships" who seem to always be at odds? Do some on the team separate themselves from the group for one reason or another? Does this seem to be a consensus type of team that has a sense of unity or is if a gathering of "mini-groups," each with its own agenda and purpose? Teamwork is only possible when a team feels united with common goals.

Leadership: Teams depend on internal leadership to be successful. Of course there is always a team leader who is appointed as part of the structure, but often leadership will come from someone other than the designated leader. The leader should observe which members are guiding the team toward its goals.

Who are the natural leaders that emerge from the group? Is leadership lacking? Does the designated leader lack the necessary skills to lead the team? If a leader is going to help strengthen the team, he or she must always observe the dynam­ics of the team and be keenly aware of who the team leaders are.

Observe the Progress

The team's task: All teams have a purpose for being together. All teams have something they expect to accomplish together. Often, in the midst of their activities, teams will lose focus of the end goal that is the sole purpose for their being together.

Many times the team will become bogged down in the short-term discussion they are engaged in and not realize that they have drifted away from the original path. The leader can be a valuable asset to the team by helping them keep focused on the primary task. This takes a great deal of discipline.

The leader must always be observing the progress by looking beyond the present discussion and assessing how it fits into the overall direc­tion the team should be taking. Is the team moving closer to their goal with this activity they are currently involved with?

The team's development: The team is together to perform a task, but the development of the team is equally as important. Are they get­ting better as a team? Are they participating openly? Is there a growing atmosphere of trust and cohesiveness?

Does their behavior toward one another show they take other members' feelings into account? The fa­cilitator should observe the progress of how the members are growing individually and how the team is growing in its ability to work com­fortably together.

Teams are in a constant state of development. They should always be getting better in their ability to interact and make decisions. Each time the team experiences a change in membership, the development process begins all over again. Observing the team's development process will give the leader the understanding he or she needs to help the team grow.

To Be Continued

Part 1   Part 2  Part 3  Part 4  Part 5  Part 6  Part 7  Part 8

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