How to Choose a Leadership Pattern

Why do some teams win more often than others? Why are some teams more mercurial, capable of astonishing performances one day and appalling ones the next? Is there a formula to winning that only some possess? Or is it out there for everybody to follow but only some are inclined to reach out for it? Is there a culture of winning, then? And if there is, why do some teams embrace it with passion while others merely look at it from distance?

What is distinctive about geese flying together is that they always fly in V pattern. The reason for this pattern is that the flapping wings of the geese in front create an updraft for the geese that follow. This V pattern increases the range of the geese collectively by 71 percent compared to flying alone. On the long flights, after the lead goose has flown at the front of the V for a while, it drops back to take a place in the V where the flying is easier. Another goose then takes over the lead position, where the flying is most demanding. If a goose begins to fly out of formation, it is not long before it returns to the V because of the resistance it experiences when not supported by the wing flapping of the other geese.

Another noticeable feature of these geese is the loud honking that occurs when they fly. These geese never fly quietly. The reason for honking is not random. It occurs among geese in the rear of the formation in order to encourage the lead goose. The leader does not honk – just those who are supporting and urging on the leader. If a goose is shot, becomes ill, or falls out of formation, two geese break ranks and follow the wounded or ill goose to the ground. There they remain, nurturing their companion, until it is either well enough to return to the flock or it dies.

Seven important attributes of effective teams and skillful teamwork:

  1. Effective teams have interdependent members.
  2. Effective teams help members be more efficient working together than alone.
  3. Effective teams function so well that they create their own magnetism.
  4. Effective teams do not always have the same leader.
  5. In effective teams, members care for and nurture one another.
  6. Effective teams have members who cheer for and bolster the leader, and vice versa.
  7. Effective teams have a high level of trust among members.

Team Development

Teams, in simple manner, are groups of people who are interdependent in the tasks they perform, affect one another’s behavior, through interaction, and see themselves as a unique entity. Developing tea, skills is important because of the tremendous explosion in the use of teams in work organizations over the last decade. Possessing the ability to lead and manage teams and teamwork has become commonplace requirement in most organization.

Regardless of whether you play role of team leader or team member, in order to function effectively in a team it is important that you understand that all team progress through stages of development. These stages cause the dynamics within the team to change, the relationships among team members to shift, and effective leader behaviors to be modified. Despite the variety in composition, purpose, and longevity of the teams investigated in large number of studies, the stages of group and team development have been strikingly similar.

The team tends to develop through four separate, sequential stages:

  • Forming
  • Norming
  • Storming
  • Performing


When team members first come together, they are not a team but an aggregation of individuals sharing a common setting. The important tasks on hand at this stage are sense of security and direction, getting oriented, and becoming comfortable with the new situation.

Individuals cannot begin to feel like a team until they become familiar with the rules and boundaries of their setting. They don’t know whom to trust, who will take initiative, what constitute normal behavior, or what kinds of interactions are appropriate. They are not yet real team but only a collection of individuals. Therefore, the task of the team in this stage is less focused on producing an output than on developing the team itself.

A team faces the following kinds of task issues in its first stage of development:

  1. Orienting members and getting questions answered
  2. Establishing trust
  3. Establishing relationships with the leader(s)
  4. Establishing clarity of purpose, norms, procedures, and expectations


Once team members have become oriented, achieved clarity about the team’s goals, and accepted their place in the team, the main challenge of the team is to create a cohesive unit or a “sense of team.” Norms, rules, and expectations are clarified in the first stage, but an underlying team culture and informal relationships among members must also be developed.

The more team members interact with one another, the more they develop common behaviors and perspectives.

They experience certain amount of pressure to conform to the expectations of other team members, so the team begins to develop a character and culture of its own.

The major focus on the team members shifts from overcoming uncertainty in the forming stage to developing the norms of the unified group.

Individual experience feelings of loyalty to the team, and interpersonal relationships that most characterize team members include:

  • Cooperativeness
  • Conformity to standards and expectations
  • Heightened interpersonal attraction
  • Ignoring disagreements
  • Participation by all team members is encouraged, and team takes responsibility to ensure:
  • Maintains unity and cohesion
  • Facilitates participation and empowerment
  • Shows support to team members
  • Provides feedback on team and team member performance


Once the members begin feel comfortable with the team, they often begin to explore different roles. Some may tend toward task facilitation, while others may tend toward relationship building.

Playing different roles causes members to develop different perspectives and to develop ideas that challenge the leadership and direction of the team.

Virtually every effective team goes through a stage in which team members question the legitimacy of the team’s direction, the leader, the roles of other team members, the opinions or decisions of others, and the task objectives.

The team’s long term success will depend on how well it managers the storming stage of development. Some struggles must occur, some discomfort must be experienced, and some obstacles must be overcome for the team to prosper.

The team must learn to deal with adversity – especially that produced by its own members.

The main task issues to be addressed by the team in this stage include:

  • Managing conflict
  • Legitimizing productive expressions of individuality
  • Turning counter-dependence into interdependence
  • Fostering consensus-building process


The performing stage of development represents highly effective and efficient team functioning. The team has overcome issues of skepticism, uncertainty, non-participativeness, dependence, and self-centeredness.

It has developed a clear mission, personal commitment to the team, a high degree of loyalty and morale, and has overcome tendencies toward groupthink that can occur in the norming stage. It has now potential to develop the attributes of high-performing team.

Team members shift their focus from merely accomplishing objectives to fostering change and improvement and achievement extraordinary performances. Continuous improvement replaces accomplishment as an objective.

Team members exhibit a sense of shared responsibility and concern for one another as they carry out their work. Their relationships are not limited to merely accomplishing a task together, but also extend to ensuring that each team member is learning, developing, and flourishing.

The team adopts a set of behaviors that help to foster and perpetuate this stage of development, including:

  • Capitalizing on core competence
  • Fostering innovation and continuous improvement
  • Enhancing flourishing relationships
  • Encouraging positive deviance

Summary of four stages of team development:


The team is faced with the need to become acquainted with its members, its purpose, and its boundaries. Relationships must be formed and trust established. Clarity of direction is needed from team leaders.


The team is faced with creating cohesion and unity, differentiating roles, identifying expectations for members, and enhancing commitment. Providing supportive feedback and fostering commitment to a vision are needed from team leader.


The team is faced with disagreements, counter-dependance, and the need to manage conflict. Challenges include violations of team norms and expectations and overcoming groupthink. Focusing on process improvement, recognizing team achievement, and fostering win/win relationships are needed from team leaders.


The team is faced with the need for continuous improvement, innovation, speed, and capitalizing on core competencies. Sponsoring team members’ new ideas, orchestrating their implementation, and fostering extraordinary performance are needed from the team leaders.



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