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MANAGEMENT STYLES Argyris and Schön’s work on theories for action and Salovey andMayer’s work on emotional intelligence emphasizes universal competencies—qualities useful to anyone. A contrasting research stream focuses on how individuals diverge in personality and behavior. A classic experiment (Lewin, Lippitt, and White, 1939) compared autocratic, democratic, and laissez- faire leadership in a study of boys’ clubs. Leadership style had a powerful impact on both productivity and morale. Under autocratic leadership, the boys were productive but joyless. Laissez-faire leadership led to aimlessness and confusion. The boys strongly preferred democratic leadership, which produced a more productive and positive group climate.
Countless theories, books, workshops, and tests have been devoted to helping managers identify their own and others’ personal or interpersonal styles. Are leaders introverts or extroverts? Are they friendly helpers, tough battlers, or objective thinkers? Are they higher in dominance, in”uence, stability, or conscientiousness? Do they behave more like parents or like children? Are they superstars concerned for both people and production, “country club” managers who indulge employees, or hard-driving taskmasters who ignore human needs and feelings (Blake and Mouton, 1969)?
In the 1980s, theMyers-Briggs Type Indicator (Myers, 1980) became (and has remained) a popular tool for examining management styles. Built on principles from Jungian psychology, the inventory assesses four dimensions: introversion versus extroversion, sensing versus intuition, thinking versus feeling, and perceiving versus judging. Based on scores on those dimensions, it categorizes an individual into one of sixteen types. The Myers-Briggs approach suggests that each style has its strengths and weaknesses and none is universally better than the rest. It also makes the case that interpersonal relationships are less confusing and frustrating if individuals understand and appreciate both their own style and those of coworkers.
One or both of the authors of this book, for example, are ENFPs (extroverted, intuitive, feeling, perceiving). ENFPs tend to be warmly enthusiastic, high-spirited, ingenious, and imaginative. But they dislike rules and bureaucracy, their desks are usually messy, and they tend to be disorganized, impatient with details, and uninterested in planning. One of us was once paired with an ISTJ (introverted, sensing, thinking, judging), who was true to her type—serious, quiet, thorough, practical, and dependable. The task was managing an educational program, but the relationship got off to a rocky start. The ISTJ arrived at meetings with a detailed agenda and a trusty notepad. Her ENFP counterpart arrived with enthusiasm and a few vague ideas. As decisions were reached, the ISTJ carefully wrote down both her assignments and his on a to-do list. Her counterpart made brief, semilegible notes on random scraps of paper. She followed through on all her tasks in a timely manner. He
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often lost the notes and did only the assignments that he remembered. She became distraught at his lack of organization. He got annoyed at her bureaucratic rigidity. The relationship might have collapsed had not the two discussed their respective Myers-Briggs styles and recognized that they needed one other; each brought something different but essential to the relationship and the undertaking.
A number of other measures of personality or style, in addition to the Myers-Briggs, are widely used in management development, but none is popular with academic psychologists. They prefer the “Big 5” model of personality, on the ground that it has stronger research support (Goldberg, 1992; John, 1990; Judge et al., 2002; Organ and Ryan, 1995). As its name implies, the model interprets personality in terms of !ve major dimensions. The labels for these dimensions vary from one author to another, but a typical list includes extroversion (displaying energy, sociability, and assertiveness), agreeableness (getting along with others), conscientiousness (a tendency to be orderly, planning oriented, and hard-working), neuroticism (dif!culty in controlling negative feelings), and openness to experience (preference for creativity and new experience). For popular use, though, the Big 5 has its disadvantages. Compared with the Myers-Briggs, it conveys stronger value judgments. It is hard to argue, for example, that being disagreeable and neurotic are desirable leadership qualities. Moreover, some of the labels (such as neuroticism) make more sense to psychologists than to laypeople.
Despite the risk of turning managers into amateur psychologists, it helps to have shared language and concepts to make sense of the elusive, complex world of individual differences. When managers are blind to their own preferences and personal style, they usually need help from others to learn about it. Their friends and colleagues may be more ready to lend a hand if they have some way to talk about the issues. Tests like the Myers-Briggs provide a shared framework and language.
GROUPS AND TEAMS IN ORGANIZATIONS Groups can be wonderful or terrible, conformist or creative, productive or stagnant. Whether paradise or wasteland, groups are indispensable in the workplace. They solve problems, make decisions, coordinate work, promote information sharing, build commit- ment, and negotiate disputes (Handy, 1993). As modern organizations rely less on hierarchical coordination, groups have become even more important in forms such as self-managing teams, quality circles, and virtual groups whose members are linked by technology. In Chapter 5, we discussed the structural issues that are vital to group functioning. Here we turn our attention to equally important human issues.
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Groups have both assets and liabilities (Collins and Guetzkow, 1964; Hackman, 1989; McGrath, 1984; Cohen and Bailey, 1997). They have more knowledge, diversity of perspective, time, and energy than individuals working alone. Groups often improve communication and increase acceptance of decisions. On the downside, groups may overrespond to social pressure or individual domination, bog down in inef!ciency, waste time, or let personal agendas smother collective purposes (Maier, 1967).
Groups operate on two levels: an overt, conscious level focused on task and a more implicit level of process, involving group maintenance and interpersonal dynamics (Bales, 1970; Bion, 1961; Leavitt, 1978; Maier, 1967; Schein, 1969). Many people see only confusion in groups. The practiced eye sees much more. Groups, like modern art, are complex and subtle. A few basic dimensions offer a map for bringing clarity and order out of apparent chaos and confusion. Our map emphasizes four human elements in group process: informal roles, informal norms, interpersonal con”ict, and leadership in decision making.
Informal Roles In groups, as in organizations, the !t between the individual and the larger system is a central human resource concern. The structural frame emphasizes the importance of formal roles, traditionally de!ned by a title (one’s position in the hierarchy) or a formal job description. In groups and teams, individual roles are often much more informal and implicit on both task and personal dimensions. The right set of task roles helps get work done andmakes optimal use of eachmember’s resources. But without a corresponding set of informal roles, individuals feel frustrated and dissatis!ed, which may foster unproductive or disruptive behaviors.
Parker (2008) conceptualizes four different informal roles that group members can take in order to contribute to group success. His roles align loosely with our four-frame model:
1. Contributors: task-oriented, structural-frame individuals who help a group develop plans and tactics for moving ahead on the task at hand.
2. Collaborators: big picture, more symbolic types who help a group clarify long-term directions.
3. Communicators: process-oriented, human resource–frame individuals who serve as facilitators and consensus builders.
4. Challengers: political-frame individuals who ask tough questions and push the group to take risks and achieve higher standards.
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As Parker’s model suggests, every work group has a range of roles that need to be !lled. The roles are often “uid, evolving over time as the group moves through phases of its work. Groups do better when task roles align with characteristics of individuals, who bring different interests (some love research but hate writing), skills (some are better at writing, others are better presenters), and varying degrees of enthusiasm (some may be highly committed to the project, while others drag their feet). It is risky, for example, to assign the writing of a !nal report to a poor writer or to put the most nervous member on stage in front of a demanding audience.
Anyone who joins a group hopes to !nd a comfortable and satisfying personal role. Imagine a three-person task force. One member, Karen, is happiest when she feels in”uential and visible. Bob prefers to be quiet and inconspicuous. Teresa !nds it hard to participate unless she feels liked and valued. In the early going in any new group, members send implicit signals about roles they prefer, usually without realizing they are doing it. In their !rst group meeting, Karen jumps in, takes the initiative, and pushes for her ideas. Teresa smiles, compliments other people, asks questions, and says she hopes everyone will get along. Bob mostly just watches.
If the three individuals’ preferred roles dovetail, things may go well. Karen is happy to have Bob as a listener, and Bob is pleased that Karen lets him be inconspicuous. Teresa is content if she feels that Karen and Bob like her. Now suppose that Tony, who likes to be in charge, joins the group. Karen and Tony may collide—two alphas who want the same role. The prognosis looks bleaker. But suppose that another member, Susan, signs on. Susan’s mission in life is to help other people get along. If Susan can help Karen feel visible, Teresa feel loved, and Tony feel powerful while Bob is left alone, everyone will be happy—and the group should be productive.
Some groups are blessed with a rich set of resources and highly compatible individuals, but many are less fortunate. They have a limited supply of talent, skill, and motivation. They have areas of both compatibility and potential con”ict. The challenge is to capitalize on their assets while minimizing liabilities. Unfortunately, many groups fail to identify or discuss the hurdles they face. Avoidance often back!res. Neglected challenges come back to haunt team performance, often at the worst possible moment, when a deadline looms and everyone feels the heat.
It usually works better to deal with issues early on. A major consulting !rm produced a dramatic improvement in effectiveness and morale by conducting a team-building process when new “engagement teams” formed to work on client projects. Members discussed the roles they preferred, the resources each individual brought and thoughts about how the group might operate. Initially, many skeptics viewed the team building as a waste of time
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with doubtful bene!ts. But the investment in group process at the front end more than paid for itself in effectiveness down the road.
Informal Group Norms Every group develops informal rules to live by—norms that govern how the group functions and how members conduct themselves. We once observed two families in adjacent sites in the same campground. At !rst glance, both were alike: two adults, two small children, California license plates. Further observation made it clear that the families had very different unwritten rules.
Family A practiced a strong form of “do your own thing.” Everyone did what he or she wanted, and no one paid much attention to anyone else. Their two-year-old wandered around the campground until he fell down a 15-foot embankment. He lay there wailing while a professor of leadership pondered the risks and rewards of intervening in someone else’s family. Finally, he rescued the child and returned him to his parents, who seemed oblivious and indifferent to their son’s mishap.