JLBC: Leadership

JLBC: Leadership

How do leaders do this? Credible research supports the conclusion that influential leaders excel at the task- and people‐focused behaviors. In addition to mastering these behaviors, leaders and their team members scan outside team and organizational boundaries for signs of change that may influence the group. They understand the importance of their decision‐making style on team outcomes and ensure the team's coordination efforts and communication patterns align with the task requirements. Further, influential team leaders and members understand the importance of team norms and know how to influence them. They maintain self‐awareness and remain aware of the harmful effects of toxic behaviors. Finally, successful team leaders in the 21st century acquire a comprehensive understanding of power and appreciate how the exercise of power and influence affects many internal team dynamics.

Students of team leadership should keep in mind that the relationship between any group process and team effectiveness may vary with the nature of the task. For example, we might associate a flexible team communication pattern with high‐performing teams, but only when the job is uncertain. In terms of team processes, the literature concurs on several points. First, leaders must intentionally socialize new members into the team with deliberate onboarding rituals. All members must inculcate team norms, communication modes, and coordination expectations. Second, though not explicitly listed as a variable in the framework, team cohesion is a desired team characteristic. Research shows that highly cohesive teams will persist on challenging tasks long after less cohesive teams relent.

A Discussion of Power

For our purposes, "power" means the ability to influence others. As mentioned in the culture discussion, the JLBC has a high power‐distance culture. Additionally, in the JLBC, team members know almost immediately who wields the most formal power; visible rank and organizational hierarchies leave little doubt in anyone's mind. The administrative theory considers two broad categories of power: position power and personal power. Position power may derive from one or more of three bases: rewards, coercion, and legitimacy. Personal power has two floors: expert and referent power. Reward power is the power accrued because of the ability to influence someone by providing things they desire, such as a glowing efficiency report or a preferred assignment. Coercive power usually involves negative reinforcement whereby the leader compels action or compliance by threatening an undesirable outcome for the subordinate. A subordinate altering behavior to prevent a poor efficiency report, adverse judicial action, or even a simple butt‐chewing exemplifies the result of coercive power—legitimate power springs from one's role or position. Often, subordinates will follow a team leader simply because the organization's formal structure has placed them in that relationship. Members of most organizations, especially in the military, default to this norm. People respond to expert power, which relates to task competence because they trust experience.

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