Teaming over time : team and team leadership development through different interventions

Sammanfattning: Organizing work in groups or teams is becoming almost the norm in contemporary organizations (West, 2012; Wheelan, 2005). This has implications on leadership, team membership and the way organization are designed to favor teamwork. Organizational change and team building do not come effortlessly, but often out of necessity, a driver being the distribution of knowledge through digitalization. In 2016-2017 researchers at the consultancy firm Deloitte interviewed some 7.000 leaders worldwide on the most pressing corporate issues for the immediate future: adaptability to global competition and digitalization. The leaders stressed the necessity to move away from hierarchical organizational structures toward work in teams (Bersin et al., 2017). The team structure is preferable, since information is no longer hierarchically distributed. With knowledge comes responsibility. The new challenges consist of creating an engaged team environment, and organizations where the learning from the different teams is communicated and made use of. Few workplaces have an abundance of resources, thus people at a workplace need to learn how to best manage scarce resources. In so doing, Elinor Ostrom (1990), concluded that people easily get caught in the Prisoners’ dilemma (individually rational strategies lead to collectively irrational outcomes) unless they cooperate, and that learning how to cooperate can override the Prisoners’ dilemma and create a base for collective action that benefits all. The aim of this thesis was to contribute with knowledge regarding the mechanisms influencing and resulting in team and team leadership development lasting over time, induced through interventions. The interventions were either on the individual level, trying to increase levels of team leadership skills for the individual manager. Or on the collective level including the whole team. This latter approach seems somewhat more unusual (Jackson & Parry 2011). The individual approach was to, for the first time, evaluate and compare the outcomes of two established Swedish leadership development programs: Developmental Leadership (UL) and Understanding group and leader (UGL). The DL- program with a strong focus on developmental leadership (Larsson et al., 2003), and the UGL-program with focus both on developmental leadership and on group development (Wheelan, 2005). The collective level approach was through a program developed for a specific context; academic leadership in a Medical University, including whole management teams. The findings point toward some crucial factors for team development to happen. Communication was vital; how to, where, what and when to communicate. The interventions included both theory, and practice, the latter probably the most important. The intervention, which included the whole team had an advantage in that the team practiced communicating their real communal problems. This could also start the process of co-creating leadership. Including the whole team bridges the gap between intervention and work-life, something lone participants in leadership interventions struggled with, especially since few organizations followed up on their learning. If course participants were met with skepticism or enthusiasm had impact on their maintenance of new learning. Here the factor if the participants had gained an increase in their confidence in their role as leader, on the course or not had a large impact. Confidence could also be a factor in whether the participants claimed an opportunity to perform their new learnings or not, back at the work place. This thesis has an explorative approach, since its focus is on lesser researched problems. The word ‘problems’ is used consciously. Using ‘research gaps’ would imply exact knowledge of where these are and in the field of team and leadership development that is not obvious, this is in line with Alvesson and Sandberg (2011). Little research has been done specifically on leadership teams in a medical academic setting, as was also the case with the longitudinal studies on UGL and DL courses.

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