How Effective Leadership Relates to Effective Team Performance
Modern organizational development together with such processes as globalization facilitates growth of various forms of leadership and approaches to team performance. The reality of the modern society forces companies to adapt to the changes caused by cultural diversity, world migration, and expansion of multinational companies. All these factors are considered to be the key drivers of organizational research in the next decades.
At the same time, the basic psychology of individuals becomes advanced and offers a lot of interesting theories for team management and development. This research is important in terms of company’s organizational culture and needs to be adjusted to the roles that these individuals are playing in implementing the overall company strategy.
This research paper relates to the issue of the effectiveness of team performance in an organization. The role of leadership and the factors of its effectiveness for team performance improvement are explored. The basic assumption that is made in the paper is the hypothesis that effective leadership relates to effective team performance, i.e. a leader who chooses an effective leadership style is able to influence team performance positively in the entire organization throughout a certain period of time.
The method that is chosen to prove the hypothesis is a comparison between two teams of employees, one that is managed with effective leadership, and the another one that is managed without effective leadership. The paper relates to statistical differences between the groups of employees within a single organization, but with different leadership approach. The effectiveness of teams is measured with the help of organizational performance of the department, and this is the foundation for conclusions about the overall team performance. In general, the paper is based on research analysis, but it relates on past research data for role models and implications.
Statement of the Problem
The problem that is explored in the research relates to the extent to which an effective leadership affects team performance in an organization. Zaccaro, Rittman and Marks (2001) argue that “the causes of team failure may reside not only in member inability, but also in their collective failure to coordinate and synchronize their individual contributions” (p. 451). For this reason, it is extremely important to measure the team performance and evaluate it from the point of view of effective leadership. Effectiveness of leadership should be explored as a factor of team performance while team performance is a factor of organizational success. The problem lies in the degree of penetration between the processes of leadership and team performance in the organization. This index is the problem that is examined by this research paper.
The purpose of the research paper is to investigate the extent to which the effective leadership affects team performance in an organization. The study aims at revealing whether there is a relevant correlation between team performance and effective leadership, and how this relationship is measured.
Null Hypothesis: There is no substantial penetration between effective leadership and team performance in an organization. Alternative Hypothesis: There is a substantial penetration between effective leadership and team performance in an organization. Therefore, the research question is the following: What is the degree of penetration between effective leadership and team performance in an organization?
The paper studies two most important concepts which are usually explored separately in organizational research – team performance and effective leadership. Both concepts are rather powerful in terms of their adaptability to the changes of the business environment. However, it is important to see the major differences between the concepts in order to understand how effective leadership and team performance penetrate.
First of all, in determining team performance in an organization most researchers agree that this is not a process but a constant state of corporate culture that enables teams to perform tasks together without overlapping (Harmer & Lutton, 2007). Secondly, team performance is quite easily defined and achieved. The problem that exists now with team performance lies in its measurement in an organization.
As Dionne et al. (2004) define team performance as “a generalized framework that includes inputs (i.e. resources), processes (i.e. collective effort) and outcomes (i.e. specific performance indicators)” (p. 179). Due to the fact that team performance already entails more than two elements, measuring it within an organization becomes a real challenge for managers and department heads. Team performance is a combination of interpersonal relationships that are really difficult to investigate and measure in terms of their outcomes and implications for organization (Sivasubramaniam et al., 2002).
Effective leadership is another important process that affects organizational performance in both short term and long term periods. Due to the fact that leadership is the final cause of all actions in an organization as research implies (Burke et al., 2006), effective leadership is usually addressed in terms of various leadership styles and transformational leadership (Dionne et al., 2004; Harmer & Lutton, 2007; Chen at al., 2008). Therefore, effective leadership is a quite complex term to define as there are currently no established approaches for determining the effectiveness of leadership.
According to Chen et al. (2008), “a leader with an open mind is more receptive to challenges in this business environment” (p. 306). Moreover, the leader is responsible not only for the organizational management and leading the enterprise to success, but for all interpersonal relationships that occur among employees of an organization (see Appendix 2). Therefore, a lot of attention should be given to the leader’s role as a person who manages teams in terms of their performance effectiveness.
Two terms together are mentioned in the research literature in the form of team leadership which is considered to be one of the most important factors of team performance effectiveness. Therefore, as Zaccaro et al. (2001) imply, “team leadership represents a third characteristic of effective team performance” (p. 452). Team leadership is the key factor which allows seeing the correlation between leader’s effectiveness and team performance.
Burke et al. (2006) approach team leadership as a process that is focusing not on team performance as internal factor of organization’s effectiveness, but on creating conditions that facilitate team performance as an external factor of organization’s effectiveness. Such approach puts leadership behind team performance and gives it a function of control and monitoring. The authors imply that “the leader is effective to the degree that he/she ensures that all functions critical to task and team maintenance are completed” (Burke et al., 2006, p. 289).
Therefore, effective leadership is directed towards providing help and assistance to teams and influencing their performance from the outside. Moreover, leader’s effectiveness lies in seeing the progress and success of his team (Morgeson, DeRue & Karam, 2009). According to Zaccaro et al. (2001, p. 452), “the success of the leader in defining team directions and organizing the team to maximize progress along such directions contributes significantly to team effectiveness”.
At the same time, as Burke et al. (2006) note, “leaders also manage personnel resources by creating the third condition for team effectiveness, an enabling structure” (p. 289). In this case, developing a framework in an organization that ensures the effective leader performance is already a step towards measuring and exploring a team performance effectiveness. Team performance as seen from past research data always follows effective leadership (Dionne et al., 2004; Chen et al., 2008).
However, even despite the overall existence of close relationship between effective leadership and team performance in an organization, there is an unsufficient amount of information about the extent to which this relationship influences the final group results of the team in an organization. According to Zaccaro et al. (2001), “few team performance models specify leadership processes as central drivers of team processes” (p. 452). Therefore, there is a general need in looking at both the effective leadership and team performance and seek for other factors that affect the results of team performance for an organization.
Such approach leads towards exploring the major gap in research that relates to the subjects connected with team leadership and performance in the scope of leadership effectiveness. The research gap, as mentioned by Zaccaro et al. (2006) in their research of team leadership, lies in the necessity of finding “conceptual models of collective performance that integrate both leadership influences and team dynamics” (p. 453).
In this case, Burke et al. (2006) propose a model by Hackman that is based on key functions of a leader proposed by Fleishman et al. in the early 1990s. The model describes the process of how the effective leadership influences the results of a successful team performance in an organization (see Appendix 1). As Burke et al. (2006) imply:
In order to effectively manage personnel resources not only is compelling direction needed, but the leader must also ensure that an enabling team structure has been created (i.e., one that facilitates task accomplishment through appropriate norms, size, and capability requirements) and expert coaching is available to continually develop team members and assist in regulatory activities (p. 290).
Consequently, systematic leadership combined with the functions of controlling and monitoring team performance effectiveness is needed to ensure proper team leadership that leads to the overall organizational success.
For this reason, the research addresses the models that discover the penetration between the processes. In order to see the direction in which effective leadership and team performance are overlapping, past research data that offers proof of close relationship between two concepts is addressed as background that allows concluding the existence of such relationship. However, the extent and depth of penetration is the research gap that is covered in this study with the help of primary data and quantitative analysis. In general, literature finds evidence that effective leadership is one of the factors of team performance.
However, due to difficulties in measuring team performance and the fact that various studies propose mixed results as to the importance of leader’s effectiveness to team performance, the research gap that lies in finding the strength and depth of penetration between the processes is identified.
The study is based on non-experimental research that aims at quantitative analysis of the data collected. Non-experimental research entails various forms of analysis that seek for process relationship and description. The research design is based on survey data collected from respondents. The non-experimental correlational design is used for this research as it not only allows seeing the relationships between the factors, but also the depth and strength of this correlation which helps answering the research question and addressing research hypothesis.
The paper is based on the quantitative research that enables seeing the vital parameters of the correlation between the effective leadership and the team performance. The specific procedures that this research entails include analyzing effective leadership as already an existing value. That is why, there are two teams of employees within a single organization, one of them with poor management (non-effective leadership), and the other one with quality management (effective leadership). The data has been collected during the process of implementing organizational change, and that is why it presents an interesting sample for analysis. Despite the fact that the research is based on the quarterly data, the sample is representative and includes more than fifteen employees in one department. The data has been collected with the help of questionnaires that were distributed to both the employees and department heads. The questionnaires include the questions regarding the management styles, leader role, and task fulfillment. The information collected from the questionnaires was analyzed in the SPSS software and interpreted based on the factors of correlation between effective leadership and team performance. The aim was to find the penetration between two statistical variables in both groups and to investigate how they are linked together.
The null hypothesis of the research paper is that there is no substantial penetration between effective leadership and team performance. The results of the data analysis show a different picture. Within the Group A (which is the group with quality management and leader effectiveness) the results of task implementation were very successful. All tasks that have been identified in the range from one to fourteen have been accomplished, and the results showed revenue increase for this department in 17.3 % during the period of three months (i.e. exactly the period of research data collection). At the same time, Group B which was reported to have a poor leader effectiveness did not receive enough control and directions from the side of the leader. Respondents agreed that the department head was not involved in any of the tasks they were to accomplish, and that is why they only fulfilled nine tasks out of fourteen. Nonetheless, they still generated revenue at the level of 4.1% for the period of three months.
The index which showed the relationship between effective leadership (EL) and team performance (TP) was Cronbach’s alpha. This estimate allows seeing the penetration of variables and the type of relationship they have. Notably, Group B which was not having effective leadership was more dependent on this value than Group A (see Appendix 3).
The null hypothesis is, therefore, rejected. Hence, the alternative hypothesis that there is significant penetration between the effective leadership and team performance in an organization is accepted. The relationship between effective leadership and team performance for both groups of employees (Group A and Group B) turned out to be statistically significant.
Interpretation of Results
The purpose of the research paper was to investigate the extent to which the effective leadership affects team performance in an organization. The research proved that there are significant interrelations between the team performance and effective leadership in an organization. However, due to the fact that the estimates were based on the tasks analyzed, more than half of tasks were fulfilled by the group which was not characterized by effective leadership. Therefore, it can be concluded that even with a little help and control from the department head, the team was able to accomplish the given tasks. The only concern that remains for this group is that it generated less revenue than the group with effective leadership (4.1% against 17.3% for the same three months period).
The paper aimed at examination of the correlation between team performance and effective leadership, and how these processes penetrate. The results of data analysis showed that the alternative hypothesis is accepted, and there is a substantial penetration between effective leadership and team performance (Cronbach’s alpha = 0.795 on average for two groups). At the same time, the results showed the effective leadership is needed not solely for task accomplishment, but for ensuring quality of these tasks. As the group with the absence of effective leadership managed to fulfill more than half of their tasks, it still could not generate enough revenue. These findings prove that the effective leadership is not the most important factor of team performance in terms of task accomplishment, but a substantial parameter of quality of task fulfillment and revenue increase. This is also proved by the literature review.
The analysis is based on theoretical background with a quantitative analysis of the respondents. The questionnaires were only conducted based on the quarterly data, and this data represented a period when the company was under the process of significant corporate and organization changes.
However, the research is lacking a substantial time period to develop a quantitative analysis that will allow making generalizations about the concepts. In general, most of the data that was used for concluding the hypothesis was secondary data, and the data collection that was conducted was carried out with limited resources and within a limited time frame. Due to the fact that the topic of research is rather broad, further research is needed to ensure that all implications and results are valid and reliable.
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