Working with a team, working for a team and working as a team are very different concepts. This distinction is the biggest lesson I learned from the simulation. A team may refer to a group of people but each member has a specific role to play. The idea of parts joining together to form a whole are analogous to the individual personalities, strengths and weaknesses each one brings to complete the team.
In our group, the leader blended in with the roles of the other members. She would have been more influential if she had assumed her position more aggressively, by explaining the overall strategy, giving concrete instructions etc.She did a good job of listening to everyone’s comments but did not make her own opinions very clear. Being a leader is immense responsibility because the expectations from a leader supersede those of the other members. Thus I would imagine the leader to be working with the team, the other members for the team and a synergy of their efforts are working as a team. I always understood the importance of comprehensive and clear communication but I became more conscious about the importance of functional roles and reporting relationships in a team through the simulation.I was under the impression that a leader should do most of the talking but leading is more of a directive process, encouraging others to speak.
If you are a good leader you do not maximize your own contributions but motivate others to put in their best inputs. I learned that this is a challenge because you have to establish yourself as the higher authority at the same time as well. Our team for the Everest simulation was both successful and unsuccessful in certain ways. We were obviously unsuccessful because none of our team members was able to reach the summit and we were not ‘effective’ as a team.However the team was very successful with respect to the way we communicated with each other.
Everyone was open and honest about the information that they had and the tasks that they could do. For example, some of us were very confused about the symptoms of Acute Mountain Sickness and asthma. At this point one of our members was kind enough to explain the differences between both and that knowledge helped the Physician give me (the Environmentalist) the inhaler in time.In another instance, I was honest that I was struggling with the oxygen tanks challenge and a fellow member simply accepted the responsibility and made the calculations correctly. Members were willing to share both their limitations and area of expertise. Though I also noticed there was a lot of ‘formality’ in our group chat. If we had broken the ice earlier, we would all probably been less self-conscious. No one said more than they were supposed to but that definitely impaired our idea generation process.
There was no active discussion or healthy debate and so we were unable to come up with innovative, alternative solutions.Thus I feel that even though we did well in some aspects, we could have performed much better overall. If I were the leader of the group with respect to Everest, I would make sure that I was the most prepared prior to the simulation. I probably would have guided the discussion in the first 10 minutes we were allowed to talk just so that I could familiarize my team with the idea of me being the ‘leader’. I have been a team leader on several occasions and I find that the best way to approach a group is by being approachable.It is very important to look at team members as people and not just resources especially when influencing team dynamics. This diplomatic stance works well because members who are shy or relatively less experienced do not feel threatened by the leader. Also more aggressive members do not find themselves at loggerheads with the leader, trying to prove a point.
This would ensure open dialogue but at the same time I would make an effort to stimulate good, creative solutions and not just ideas in general. As an entrepreneur, you cannot afford to let humility undermine your confidence and authority.