Organizational Leadership News & Views

Applying organizational leadership to small groups

  • Alvernia MOL

Leaders of small teams are responsible for the success of individuals and of the team as a whole. They are required to create a positive environment where team members feel motivated and focused. Can this be done without applying organizational leadership theory? Not really. Keeping a small group on track requires an understanding of group dynamics.

Small groups are usually described as having less than 10 people. These groups can be ideal for team-building activities because members are able to get to know what each other brings to the table. Group leaders use strengths in communication and organization to model the way team members interact and behave. Most importantly, they set the standard for the group to follow.

In the Forbes article Why You Must Lead Differently as Your Team Grows, author George Bradt says groups of less than 10 people should be led “with environment and values”. Leaders, therefore, should be clear on what values will drive decisions. Everyone on the team should buy into these values, Bradt recommends.

By defining the purpose of the team, leaders are identifying what the team is responsible for and the goals they are trying to reach.

Sharing goals and objectives require being able to communicate effectively. Being a good listener and being available to answer questions and solve problems builds team morale and loyalty. Communication is important in resolving all sorts of issues, including conflicts.

To achieve goals, there must be focus. Fewer people mean fewer distractions. Members of smaller groups can receive the individualized attention needed to keep them motivated. A motivated team can improve an organization’s quality, service and productivity. This is why motivation is an aspect of leadership that is carefully studied. For example, the Followership, Groups & Teams course in the Masters in Organizational Leadership program at Alvernia explores the theory, evidence-based research and skills related to team motivation.

Small team dynamics show the importance of building relationships. Leaders of small teams can find themselves in roles ranging from coach and expert to friend and facilitator. By developing their skills, they can lead their small groups to do big things.

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