Success Or Failures Of Project Leaders Management Essay

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People in organisations work in teams which goes through various stages to function properly in achieving stated goals and objectives. The extent to which project leadership success or failure relates to the stages of teams formation in the pursuance of these goals and objectives are not clear cut as past researches have given divided opinion and bringing other factors in contention. This assignment will introduce the concept of team formation and project leadership and critically discuss the extent to which the stages of team formation relate to the success or failure of project leadership.


A team comprises a group of people linked to a common purpose with complementary skills and generate synergy through a coordinated effort allowing each member to maximise his/her strengths and minimize weaknesses. Bailey and Cohen (1997: 4) considers a team as "a collection of individuals who are interdependent in their tasks, share responsibility for outcomes, see themselves and are seen by others as an intact social entity, embedded in one or more larger social systems and who manage their relationships across organizational boundaries."

Teams can be more effective for making decisions effectively and quickly than the traditional hierarchical structure according to the large body of research (Thompson 2008). According to Thompson an approximate average lifespan of a team is 24 months. Teams can be of different types, classified (categorized) on the basis of size, organisational level, composition, potential contribution to organizational performance, objectives, permanent versus temporary (duration). Teams can be categorized as formal and informal teams, problem-solving teams, task forces, cross-functional teams, virtual-teams, research and development teams, self-managed teams. According to Colloquia et al., there are 5 general types of teams such as work teams, management teams, parallel teams, project teams and action teams.

As group members come and go, due to turnover, promotions, hiring and other reasons; therefore resulted over time change in teams, goals, group tasks etc (George et al. 2008). Tuckman's more popular team development model identifies five main successive stages of team development and relationship: forming, storming, norming, performing and adjourning (cited in Mullins, 2010:310). How the stages of team formation relate to the success or failure of the project leadership, one way to understand this point is to consider what occurs in teams at different stages of their development as the team progress from a newly formed team to one that is well-established.

No matter the purpose for which a team is constituted, the procedure is usually: selection or election; induction, training or both; performance and adjournment. Teams where used to construct the Pyramids in Egypt and the Great Wall of China and the Empire State Building completed in 1931. Numerous projects have been completed and built before the advent of project management through the help of teams (Oyedele, 2010).

Leadership is the ability to affect human behaviour to accomplish a mission or the act of influencing a people to set and achieve goals (McGraw, 2009). McGraw (2009) suggests successful project leadership involves: leading courageously; influencing others and acting with resilience.

Great leaders are visionary people who are able to achieve results using people. They exhibits authority in themselves and exhume confidence in their team members. Circumstances make men, just as much as men make circumstances (Marx and Engels, 1947:29). Some leaders are democratic, allowing team members to air the opinions. Some are dictatorial, explaining what they want from their teams to the team members to execute. All styles have opportunity and challenges and may be used in certain circumstances.

Team leaders must also realise that there are different types of human traits that can be exhibited among team members. These traits rarely have advantage over others as they are complementary. It is the duty of an effective team leader to identify the trait in individual members of his or her team and know how to use the qualities to advantage. Some members of the team will be 'natural co-ordinators', 'resource investigators', 'team workers', 'shapers', 'company workers/implementers', 'completer/finisher', 'planters', 'monitors/evaluators', and 'specialists' (Belbin, 2004).

All these traits have the qualities which effective team leaders can exploit and none is better than the other. There is also Myer-Briggs model (1956) which effective team leaders have to contend with. This model is about personality types. Myer-Briggs identified four ways people differ from each other. These are: the way they think; the way they view; the way they feel/perceive and the way they see things. Team diversity which include language difference, cultural difference, background difference, qualification difference, class, age, sex and experience also have effects in a team which the leader must manage. Mckenna and Maister draw attention on the importance of group leader establishing trust among the group by helping them understand the behaviours that build trust (Cited in Mullins, 2010).

3. Discussion

Bass and Ryterband identify four distinct stages in team (group) development:

Mutual acceptance and membership;

Communication and decision-making;

Motivation and productivity; and

Control and organisation; ( Cited in Mullins, 2010)

Certain types of project teams, follow a pattern of team development called "punctuated equilibrium" with the first stage been the initial team meeting, where team members make assumptions and create a pattern of behaviour that lasts for the first half of the project life. At midway point of the project team members realize that they have to fundamentally change their task paradigm to complete it on time and this new framework dominates their behaviour until the completion of the project (Colquitt et al :381)

Bruce W. Tuckman's more popular team development model identifies five main successive stages of team development and relationship: forming, storming, norming, performing and adjourning. (Cited in Mullins, 2010: 310)

Stage 1 - Forming:

At this stage the team initially formed, the team members meet each other, identify the purpose of the team, terms of reference and its composition. Team members endeavor to test each other, establish their personal identity and create an impression within the group with most consideration given to structure of the team, code of conduct, objectives, individual roles and responsibilities,. Pattern of leadership is also considered. If the team is more diverse, it is more difficult for the team to maneuver through as this stage takes longer. Therefore, in the formation of multicultural teams it is a particularly sensitive stage as it is characterized by commonality, courtesy, caution and confusion.

According to Bowditch et al the motivation of team members of joining a group, strongly influence cohesiveness of the group and the member's productivity. When team members truly consider that they are the part of a team, generally this stage is complete. At the forming stage the team wants answers to questions regarding leadership, who is going to be their leader? What type of leadership style would be imposed on them and what type of leadership style do they want? To take the team to the performing stage leadership is crucial. Team members will not be comfortable if there is lack of clarity. However, it is vital that project leader see the team commitment to goals and purpose.

Table 1: Members and Leadership competencies in Forming stage of a team.

Member competencies needed:

Leadership competencies needed:

Asking open-ended questions

Maintaining equity and being fair

Listening without making assumptions and judgements

Helping the group to articulate its purpose and overriding goal

Observing group patterns of communication

Facilitating discussions

Using inclusive communication patterns

Intervening to include all

Disclosing one's needs appropriately

Stage 2 - Storming:

This phase of team development is typically marked by conflict between team members, criticism and tension. Conflict arises due to the competing approaches to obtain the group's goals, disagreements over responsibilities and appropriate task related behaviour. Team members might disagree about who should be leading the team and how much power the team leader should have and can result in redefining of the team's overall goals and specific tasks. Team members are likely to individually decide their level of commitment to the group tasks and extent, to which they like the team tasks, therefore may resist the control imposed by the team.

At storming stage the team members may begin to withdraw, or if successful, agreement on more meaningful procedures, structures and reforming arrangements for the operations of the team will be discussed. Therefore this stage is a critical stage for the group survival and effectiveness as the conflict harms the team progress and negatively affects some interpersonal relationship. When team's control is no longer resisted by the team members and everyone in the team agree about who will lead the team, this storming stage is completed. Team members usually think that it is their best interest to work together to achieve team goals, therefore they normally complete this stage.

At the storming stage the team wants answers to questions regarding leadership such as, what type of leadership style do they want? Can we accept the leadership we have? At the storming stage, leadership is often challenging. According to Halverson et al. if the designated leader is a member of one-down team there may be more confrontation than if a person is in a one-up group.

Table 2: Members and Leadership competencies in Storming stage of a team.

Member competencies needed:

Leadership competencies needed:

Using inclusive language and behaviors

Establishing an agreed-upon work plan

Managing emotional expression

Using mediation skills

Giving and receiving feedback appropriately

Using diverse methods of feedback and conflict transformation

Stage 3 - Norming:

At this stage norms and expectations about what different members are responsible for doing are realise and develop as the team delineates task standards, develop intra group cohesiveness and establish standards, rules and regulations. Team members really start to feel their belongings to the team and the development of close ties with other team members. Therefore this phase of team development is characterised by: commitment, collaboration, cooperation and cohesion as team members attempts to mutually agree upon objectives and goals, accept different opinion and try to open exchange of information.

To establish the need for team members; co-operate in order to agree standards of performance, plan and fulfill the goal and objectives of the team. Feeling of belongings and friendship to team help to work towards team goals. By the end of this stage, standards to guide behaviour in the group are agreed by the team members.

At the norming stage the team needs to resolve questions such as how strong a leadership role do they need? There is less attention to status and hierarchy. The leader continuously moves to a supportive, coaching role.

Table 3: Members and Leadership competencies in Norming stage of a team.

Member competencies needed:

Leadership competencies needed:

Demonstrating support on task and in relationships

Reinforcing high standards for task

Recognizing individual and cultural differences in how appreciation is shown

Coaching where needed

Stage 4 - Performing:

This is the stage at which real work is done, team members know their role and duties and performing their work according to the expectations. Team members concentrate on the achievement of common goals and objectives. Sometime it can take long to reach to the performing stage, in most cases when they are self-managed work teams. Team members makes progress towards common goals and feel comfortable working within their roles. This phase is marked by consideration among members, creativity, challenge and group consciousness. At this stage the team morale is high and team has a good ability to focus on the task as relationship issues have been resolved.

At the performing stage the team wants answers to leadership questions such as, how can they share leadership? How can they incorporate a process for change and renewal?

Table 4: Members and Leadership competencies in Performing stage of a team.

Member competencies needed:

Leadership competencies needed:

Adapting and changing

Establishing a process for incorporating change and renewal

Including new members

Sharing leadership

Stage 5 - Reforming or Adjourning:

At this stage a task force teams disbands after the fulfillment of its goals or due to poor performance. But some teams are permanent (ongoing work teams), therefore may not reach to the adjourning stage and often remain to the performing stage. This final stage can be characterized by communication, closure, compromise and consensus.

According to Belbin R., Meredith "the team leader does not expect to be wiser, more creative, or more farseeing than colleagues, and in consequence is more humble than the sole leader. For that reason the team leader seeks talent in order to compensate for any personal shortcomings and to improve the balance of the team"

Hondon (2002) emphasis that teams of 5-10 persons who are semi-autonomous, self-managed with each team member having specific role result best conditions for team work. Self managed teams, who operate independently from other teams, whose team members do not need to take permission for the undertaking and completion of their own projects in the agreed and given time frame, provide/result substantially higher level of satisfaction, participation and commitment.

Table 5: Leadership Activities at Different Group Formation Stages


Leadership Activity


Direct the team and establish objectives clearly by negotiating ground rules.


Establish process and structure, and work to smooth conflict and build good relationships between team members.

Generally provide support, especially to those team members who are less secure. Remain positive and firm in the face of challenges.

Explain "forming, storming, norming and performing" idea for people to understand why conflict's occurring, and that things will get better in the future.

Teaching assertiveness and conflict resolution skills.


Help the team take responsibility for progress towards the goal by arranging a social, or a team-building event.


Delegate as far as possible. Once the team has achieved high performance, the aim now is to have as "light a touch" as possible by focusing on other goals and areas of work.


When breaks up time should be taken to celebrate its achievements.

The above table clearly depict the relation between the stages of team formation and successful project leadership, the reverse will mean failure.

4. Conclusion

Teams are formed because they can achieve far more than their individual members can on their own, and while being part of a high-performing team can be fun, it can take patience and professionalism to get to that stage. Effective team leaders can accelerate that process and reduce the difficulties that team members experience by understanding what they need to do as their team moves through the stages from forming to storming, norming and, finally, performing.

Successful project leadership should realise that not all teams and situations will behave in the way depicted by Tuckman. However, in using this approach, the leader should not attempt to force situations to fit it but make sure that people don't use knowledge of the "storming" stage as a license for boorish behavior

Q3. Critically evaluate the dynamic between Task, Team and Individual as related to managing a project successfully?

Title Page

Table of Contents Page No

1. Abstract

2. Introduction

3. Discussion

4. Conclusion

5. References and Bibliography

6. List of Tables

1. Abstract

People in organisations work in teams in achieving stated goals and objectives. The extent to which project success relates to the management of task, the individuals and the teams formation in the pursuance of these goals and objectives are not of equal proportion and need to be well judged and balanced by the leader.

This assignment will use John Adair's Action Centre Leadership to related the dynamic between task, individuals and team; critically discussing the extent to which these three needs are related to the management of a success project.

2. Introduction

Adair identified

Task: Achieving the team's goal. Team: Developing and building your team, so that it's ever more effective. Individual: Helping individuals develop their full potential in the workplace.

3. Discussion

4. Conclusion

5. References and Bibliography

One person cannot handle whole project, he/she need other individuals an effective team to successfully complete the project. An effective team is a team who has high commitment, is highly appreciated by upper management, is always ready (adaptive) to change open to new ideas and always achieves its goals.

Davis (2001) identified three factors, which can determine whether the team is effective or not, namely:

The people (individual) within the team

The organization's rules and culture

The tasks to be completed

The people (individual) within the team: Effective team determining factor for individual aspect

include personal job satisfaction, low or no conflict and power struggles, having job security,

appreciation by management and mutual trust of colleagues.

The organization's rules and culture: includes

The tasks to be completed: including appropriate leadership, team involvement in decisions, appropriately skilled team members, challenging work, goals and objectives.

According to Davis (2001) it is easy to appreciate the impact of organisational rules and job tasks on each other and on people (individual), but it is much more difficult to understand the impact of individual-related factors on other factors of successful teams of a successful project. Individual related factor such as trust, is a major component in forming an effective working teams that achieve results. Leaders/ managers are primarily responsible for creating trust.

To help team members (individuals) to get best from them to achieve the project's goals and to achieve full potential managing individual differences is essential. According to Robbins (1998) Individual behaviour have key variables, which make up individual difference. Every individual has their own attitudes, personality, values, talent, ability to learn, motivation factors, perceptions. Different nature of these variables (attributes) make individual different.

Attitude is the judgement an individual make about events and people. This judgement can be positive or negative. Basic values influenced attitude and attitude affect the individual behaviour. Sometime attitudes can change, while values are unlikely to change.

Values: Values are the general belief about what is good and bad. Values affect the individual behavior and attitude and difficult to change.

Personality: Individual act and behave in a particular way, which called personality. Personality can be learned and inherited.

Talent: Talent mean the intelligence and ability of the individual. Level of person's talent will depend on how that person perform their job.

Ability to learn: This is related to the change in behaviour based on experience and getting new ideas.

Motivation: Motivation means willing to do something with inspiration, not by force. Different individual have different motivating factors, such as money, name and fame etc.

Perception: Different people give different meaning to what they see around them, therefore people perceive things in different ways.

Leaders can understand why individual respond differently by Knowing about individual differences. Leaders should appreciate that it is difficult to change values, therefore they may be try to change attitude. As attitude affect behaviour, which affect job performance and motivation. The key learning point from these different factors is that if leader want to get best from their team he should appreciate that individuals need to be treated differently.

Adair (1997) describe the best leaders is who balance the task, team maintenance, and individual needs.

Balancing task, team and individual

Adair found that effective leaders pay attention to three areas of need for members of the team: those relating to the task, to the team itself and to individual team members with emphasis on variation with all three interdependent variable.

Tasks are those activities that need to done in order to achieve the desired goals and outcome. Leader can help to facilitate these tasks by planning the work, allocating the resources, checking performance and reviewing progress. Team maintenance relates to maintaining good relation and building team spirit, training the group, maintaining discipline. Individual needs can be satisfied by attending to personal problems, training the individual, giving them status and praise, meeting their needs and reconciling conflicts between group needs.

To achieve the task, management should make it clear who is going to do what, proper delegation of responsibilities, everyone is clear about the objectives, is adequate authority delegating to the team, are working conditions right for the group, have the time planned affectively, who will cover the absent person, is there adequate resources to complete the tasks.

In building and maintaining the team, management should make it clear is the size of the team is correct, are the right people working together, are the rules seen to be reasonable, is the team motivated to achieve the tasks, is the conflict dealt properly, does the team accept the objectives do the team knows about the expected standards of performance.

In developing the individual, management should make it clear that have the targets been agreed and quantified, does the individual know about their contribution to work, overall result, does the individual got sufficient authority to achieve the task delegate to them and has adequate provisions been made for retaining and training team members.

According to the Hackman (1987), there are 3 primary definitions of team success, and these relate to the task, social relations, and individuals. A successful team completes its task. while completing the task, team members develop social relations that help them work together and maintain the team. Teamwork should help to improve an individual's social and interpersonal skills.

To manage project successfully, Adair suggested characteristic functions required for the task, the team and individual which should be of concern to the leader.

Mullins (2010:369) suggests that the action taken by the leader in any one of these area of need will affect one or both of the other areas of need with the ideal position been the complete integration towards the achievement of all three. However, building the team and satisfying individual needs are considered to be part of leadership whilst achieving the common task involves the process of management (ibid).

Successful project management will require the following list of common tasks for each of the three management responsibilities so that leaders will balance their resources appropriately.




Establish deadlines for project tasks, and explain the quality standards expected.

Ensure that everyone in the team has the skills and training to accomplish the final goal

Help define each individual's role within the team and agree the tasks they are responsible for.

Clearly state the final goal of the team.

Monitor team relationships, and resolve conflicts where necessary.

Appropriately praise and reward individual team members for their contribution to the team.

Ensure everyone understands the resources, people, and processes that they should be using

If team will be working in smaller teams, appoint a leader for each team, and ensure that he/she is effective and properly trained.

Ensure that one on one time is spent with each member: identify their strengths and weaknesses, their needs, and any special skills they can bring to the team.

Create a detailed plan for how the group is going to reach their final goal.

Work on keeping the team motivated with high morale.

If any team members seem to be lagging behind, coach them until they are back on track.

Identify the purpose of the team and communicate team members.

Identify the style the team will be working in (very formal, relaxed, etc.)

Ensure each team member has the skills to perform his or her role successfully.

Give regular feedback on the team's performance.

4. Conclusion

Leaders have many responsibilities when it comes to managing their teams. And, it's easy to get so focused on one area that the others slip by the wayside, leading to an unbalanced, poorly-functioning group.

ACL model states that leaders must balance the actions they take across all three key areas if they want their project to succeed. The areas are interdependent; if a leader focuses too much on one area and neglects the other two, then the group will experience problems. The leaders do not necessarily have to divide their efforts equally across these but balance according to the situation and over time. Using a tool like Action Centered Leadership can help any leader stay on top of the most important responsibilities, and keep the group working efficiently, happily, and productively.

John Adair's simple Action-Centered Leadership model provides a great blueprint for leadership and the management of any team, group or organisation. Good managers and leaders should have full command of the three main areas of the ACL model, and should be able to use each of the elements according to the situation. Leaders who are able to achieve the task; building the team and develop keeping the right balance, gets results, builds morale, improves quality, develops teams and productivity, and is the mark of a success.