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How leaders take up roles & use their authority to create a team (a Work Group)

As said by Weiss, leadership is the ability to lead a group of followers effectively, make them and the organization successful, and still maintain valid principles and ideals (Weiss, 1950). Almost all of us agree that leaders play a very influential and significant role in making a successful team. In this report, I will explain my point on how leaders can take up authority and roles and also explain in detail about the various incidents and experiences that took place in my LLG and PLG.

It was our first meeting when the LLG's sat round in a circle and no one spoke anything. It all looked weird to me - to sit in a circle, facing each other but not knowing any one, not talking, and staring at each other. Schutz's model is centered on social and emotional issues and looks at group development on three interpersonal principles namely Inclusion, Control and Affection (Schutz, 1972) cited in (Tyson, 1998). We knew there are expectations from each of us, the tutor, the roles, the task that has to be taken up which were all unclear to us.

From Schutz group development, the inclusion principle is about who is in and who is out of the group as members start to analyze who they want to work with and whom they don't want to work with (Tyson, 1998). As for me, Vishal asked me if we could be in the same group. I thought we might go well as we both come from the same background and have similar expectations from the subject and effort to put into the subject. It is believed that people having similar interests, expectations and shared identity have a connection and thus, tend to want to work with one another (Otelea & Popescu, 2009).

The control aspect looks at who is more dominant and aggressive and who is obedient and compliant (Schutz, 1972) cited in (Tyson, 1998). I felt Andeas at some point was obedient; he had a lot of questions and ideas to put forward in the class. But as we continued further, I saw Felix, Matt to be dominant and taking up the initiative in group discussions which made the entire class comfortable, I can say this from a few experiences I had during the class.

The last principle which is the affection principle looks at who is intimate and nurturing and who is distant (Schutz, 1972) cited in (Tyson, 1998). I felt Barnie could take up this role of an encourager which I saw many times. I strongly felt this when Matt and Felix were the only one talking, Barnie joined them in their discussion and also involved everyone by randomly asking if we agree to what they are saying and so on. I personally felt very comfortable to be a part of the discussion and did not feel left out though I was not talking much.

The formation of the PLG's took place in week two - three. Woodcock proposed a four stage model of group maturing process in 1979. Stage one is the 'underdeveloped team' where members come together to complete a task but the objectives are unclear and there is very less or no group cohesiveness (Woodcock, 1979) cited in (Tyson, 1998). Stage one took place in week three. My PLG was Felix, Nish, Shirley, Vish and I, even though I did not know any one before, it didn't give me a sense of uncomforting. There was maintenance to some extent where we exchanged our personal details and spoke a little bit about ourselves. The maintenance realm focuses on social relations (Tyson, 1998). In week four, my PLG moved on to stage two which is called the 'experimenting team'. Here the group experiments, brain storms and considers the available options. There is more focus on the task and a sense of concern for each other in the group develops (Woodcock, 1979) cited in (Tyson, 1998). Our group immediately got down to work and view points and ideas from each member in our PLG were gathered and a collective vote for choosing our presentation topic was taken. By this time, my PLG was strong on the task aspect but didn't have much maintenance going on. Shirley was taken much notice of as she was very quiet and did not talk much. In this stage, my PLG went through what is known as the pre decision discussion which involved 4 phases. The first phase was orientation where the group kept putting forth ideas. The second phase is conflict which was not much noticed in our group. Though I was ready to pick any topic, I hoped we could pick something else. Since I was the only one unhappy with the topic, I agreed to compromise and go on with that topic. Emergence is the third stage and our group started to discuss the advantages of the topic and made clear on why we picked on the topic (Tyson, 1998). The final stage is the reinforcement stage where my PLG had the final topic which pleases all (Tyson, 1998). The group lasted in stage two till week six. The third stage of the Woodcock Model is called the 'consolidating team' and this stage was entered in week seven and lasted till week nine. In this stage, a team sets certain norms and establishes certain rules that members are expected to follow (Woodcock, 1979) cited in (Tyson, 1998). In my PLG, the main norms were to attend all the tutorials where there is PLG's interaction and communicate among the group in advance if any member was unable to make it for the class. A group in this stage starts working in a more organized manner while still debating and encouraging more discussions (Woodcock, 1979) cited in (Tyson, 1998). My PLG coordinated well and we started getting the tasks done with no conflicts. The fourth and the last stage is called 'the mature team' and it is characterized by a presence of high flexibility among members, effective leadership and maximum utility of the skills of all the group members(Woodcock, 1979) cited in (Tyson, 1998). My PLG remained in this stage till week ten which was our presentation week. Our group worked in a manner in which all the work was done pre hand and with a high degree of group cohesiveness.

Psychodynamics is the systematized study and theory of the psychological forces that underlie human behavior, emphasizing the interplay between unconscious and conscious motivation (Weiss, 1950). The psychodynamic approach is the application of psychoanalytical concepts to the group as a whole (Weiss, 1950). The Tavistock tradition addresses these concepts in detail. Bion's theory suggests that a group functions in two modes, the Work Group and the Basic Assumption or dependency group (Bion, 1961) cited in (Tyson, 1998).

The group is in work mode when the members have a clear idea about the task and are working capably on the given task (Bion, 1961) cited in (Tyson, 1998). This can be seen during the cash register mystery, when all or majority of the members in the LLG worked coordinately with each other and had an open clear discussion about the activity or the task. For most of the PLG activities, I and my group worked together efficiently as a team where everyone in the PLG was free to express their ideas and opinions. All members agreed upon the answers and the task was completed quickly in an organized manner. The other mode in which a group exists is the Basic Assumption (Dependency) Group where the group is not in task but is diverted from it or might not even have a clear understanding of what the task at hand is (Bion, 1961) cited in (Tyson, 1998). In the LLG, this was observed during the study group activity that was conducted. I had to observe the first study group and I noticed that for the first few minutes the group was silent and then started off by talking about random topics that wasn't related to the task at all. Nish was the one who broke the silence and everyone depended on Matt to guide on what have to be done. Bion's second assumption group which is the Basic Assumption (Fight/Flight) Group where members feel threatened and either come together to solve a problem or flee from it (Bion, 1961). The LLG fled from the task as a part of breaking the silence and anxiousness. The third assumption proposed by Bion is known as the Basic Assumption (Pairing) Group where members draw their attention or focus on any two members who dominate the discussion or activity or are seen to have established an attachment with each other (Bion, 1961). This assumption is obvious when Nish and Matt started discussing about what was going on in the LLG during the study group activity. It shows how the rest of the LLG were depending upon them to get some meaning to the task. In my PLG, Nish and Felix usually initiate and guide us towards the completion of the tasks and Vishal acts as an encourager and Shirley listens. In certain PLG discussions when the task is not clear we depend on Nish and Felix and they often talk to each other about the task and then share it with the rest of the PLG which shows the basic assumption of pairing.

Gestalt psychology is a theory of mind and brain positing that the operational principle of the brain is parallel and holistic, with self-organizing tendencies (Frew, 1997). The word 'Gestalt' means a completed whole. The phrase "The whole is greater than the sum of the parts" is often used when explaining Gestalt theory (Frew, 1997).

Gestalt psychology draws upon eight principles and explains both individual as well as group behaviors. The first principle is Synergy where the result is greater than the sum of the parts. Synergy is created when things work in together to create an outcome that is in some way of more value than the total of what the individual inputs is (Tyson, 1998). In the LLG, there was more positive synergy however in a few activities or tasks negative synergy was seen as the task was unclear or the group was too big which made it difficult to work in a coordinated manner. Positive synergy was achieved by my PLG in all tasks as we worked comfortably with a sense of understanding for each other. The second principle is Polarity which is individuals or groups possess extreme characteristics of the same dimension (Tyson, 1998). For example: love and hate or competent and incompetent. The third principle is what is called as Figure and Ground where attention is being constantly drawn upon to one aspect or another that emerges from the background and captured our attention- something spoken, an idea, etc (Tyson, 1998). This can also be seen when in the pond activity, where all members were to place them in the pond as to where they thought they stood in the LLG, most of us were in-between. The fourth principle is Closure where groups want to seek closure and come to a state of rest after the successful completion of the task and resolution of conflicts so that the tension is minimized (Tyson, 1998). My PLG aimed at achieving closure by doing well in the final task (presentation) as my group was the first to present and worked with a sense of togetherness and commitment in all meetings so as to achieve a state of effective closure. Potential is the fifth principle and says that a groups potential is realized when the individuals in the group show their maximum potential or in other words give in their best and utilize their skills well (Tyson, 1998). The concept of I Rebel and therefore We Exist is important so as to ensure that the quality of decisions and work is very good (Tyson, 1998). This concept can be applied to my behavior in my PLG as I gave my opinion on changing the way we going to present and involving everyone instead of just a few of us doing the talking. The sixth principle is Resistance and Difficulty followed by Contact which is the seventh principle (Tyson, 1998). Contact Full Communication is a universal feature of the interpersonal process between two people and engages in an approach-contact withdrawal cycle (Tyson, 1998). The contact phase in the LLG during the group event of Snow White & the 7 Dwarfs where one study group analysis the other was not clear as no one was aware of what the task was. The eight and last principle of the Gestalt tradition is Insight where a group seeks successful closure which in the case of my PLG was completing our final presentation (Tyson, 1998).

Organizational roles are the characteristic and expected or free or continuously changing social behaviors of individuals occupying a certain position in an organization (Grune & Stratton, 2006). There are a numerous number of roles which an individual plays in their everyday life and may vary from personal roles (roles taken up in the family) to organizational roles.

In my PLG, various task roles were taken up. Task roles are those roles that are directed to the work being done b the group. Nish took up the role of an energizer who stimulates the group to action and ensures that a higher quality of work is being done (Tyson, 1998). Both, Nish and Felix were seen as the starter who usually initiates conversations and ways of going about the task. Vishal took up the role of an opinion giver in most of our meetings and offered information and clarified feelings and opinions to us (Tyson, 1998). I saw myself as the opinion seeker as he always asked for information and clarification from the group (PLG) (Tyson, 1998). Shirley was more like a summarizer and made sure that all the major points were restated and made clear to the group (Tyson, 1998). In the LLG, for example in the pond activity and the study group activity, Nish took up the role of an encourager and a gatekeeper by asking questions and view points of the rest of the members in the LLG.

The Arts Model is a linear and holistic model for understanding and evaluating the behavior of a group working towards a particular task (Tyson, 2004). The Arts Model looks at the Authority, Roles and Tasks taken up by members of groups. According to proposition 6 of the Arts Model if the task is unclear the needed roles cannot be identified and the sources of authority will not be tapped for permission to act (Tyson, 2004). This can be explained by the silence that was present in the LLG during the time in which the PLG's had to do a short presentation as no one was prepared so roles and authority figures were not present. The above proposition can be summarized by the following diagram:

The right to left sequence Art Model

Authority Role Task

(Tyson, 2004)

According to proposition 3 of the Arts Model effective and appropriate role taking is necessary for the task (Tyson, 2004). For example: Nish and Vish took up the initiative and started talking about the task at hand which was the group observation. This made it easier for the LLG to understand what roles were taken up and who took authority or dominate the group that was being observed.

The above proposition can be summarized by the following diagram:

The left to right sequence Art Model

Authority Role Task

(Tyson, 2004)

According to the proposition 2 of the Arts Model self authorization is an intra psychic impulse which is seen as a necessary feature for taking up a role (Tyson, 2004). Matt took up an authority role during the study group session and kept everyone on the track and it felt as if he established some sought of power.

Recommendations for becoming better and effective Leaders

They should have values that are consistent with high moral and ethical standards, and they should know how to motivate others effectively (Barker, 2001). They should have the ability to motivate their followers and elicit change as change is a vital element of a great leader. It is also recommended that they know how to create successful change and motivate others to change, too (Grune & Stratton, 2006). A leader should be able to reach the people around him/her effectively and to be able to do this, good communication skills should be developed by the individual (Grune & Stratton, 2006). Good leaders should be able to accept mistakes and failures so as to improve creativity and problem solve better (Grune & Stratton, 2006). Leaders should have a good degree of confidence, discipline, dedication, integrity and fairness in order to be effective and enact roles and thus be able to influence group dynamics (Barker, 2001).


To conclude, it is seen that individuals and groups display different behaviors and take up a variety of roles in their everyday life and while working on different tasks. The Developmental, Psychodynamic and Gestalt aspects of both the LLG and PLG are important aspects that a group or team undergoes. Overall it was a pleasure to work in my team and in the large learning group. I had a lot of fun interacting and working with them and learnt a lot through experience during the semester.