The objective of the
assignment was to recognize and confront a specific ‘challenge’ facing our
community: Consumers. In
order to make the short film we had to consider possible challenges. After
combing through numerous ideas such as telemarketing, false advertising, fraud
or scams; Shrinkflation appeared as the most suitable challenge, following
recent social media shocks and several news reports. Shrinkflation
occurs when firms reduce the quantity of a good, keeping prices the same. Big
companies take advantage of a consumer’s lack of knowledge, by not informing
Once agreeing on the
challenge we wanted to face, our attentions turned to how we would put the
video together. Firstly, we arranged a meeting in which we discussed our
strength and weaknesses to go further with our project. This meeting was
helpful for our team to allocate certain research topics for each member. By
creating a group chat which included all members, we minimize the difficulties
that we might have faced in the future, in terms of communication. Finally, we formed a video concept
and script, that developed into the final product.
The first meeting that we arranged had some implications/difficulties.
This may have been due to some external factors such as unfamiliarity between
the team members. It
did not look like a leader was going to emerge. This was understandable because
we didn’t know each other and our group was made up of a foreign majority. Although
volunteering for a leadership role is quite a challenging task, especially in a
subject that I am not comfortable in,
but in this
circumstance, I had to be, so I took on the role as the group leader by getting
everyone to introduce themselves, learning what our strengths and weaknesses
are and how we would make the film. In short, I was not the leader by choice
but by default because I had people who were willing to follow me, as Peter Drucker
states “the only definition of a leader is someone who has followers” (Peter Drucker.
(n.d.); as cited by Kruse, 2013).
As time went on and we got to know each other better and two
more leaders emerged, it became a two-layered leadership, as Jonathan Smith
would call it, in the sense that they started taking initiative outside what we
originally discussed. They started bringing new ideas and implementing them in
the group and film. (Smith, 2017)
Once we had gone past the research stage and started making
the film it was clear where people’s strengths laid and each individual became
a leader in their own right. This made my job as the leader much easier because
although I was involved in each part of the film, I did not tell them how to do
their part merely just what to do at times.
By the end of the making of the film I realized we had
developed a very collective culture throughout, which I didn’t have in my
marketing group presentation a couple weeks prior. Being the only male I believe
it was caused by the feminine culture we had in the team.
Working in this group allowed me to have a chance at a
leadership role, it also allowed me to observe whether the theory’s we had
learnt in the lectures would work/unfold. With that in mind, I can think back
to my marketing group in September and the different role I played in the
group. In that group situation, there was one main leader who was directive, he
defined our roles to us and told us who, what, where and when. This lead to a
lot of conflict between us as it was mainly a group of men. We let our egos
interfere with the presentation, causing it to not reach its maximum potential.
Unlike the marketing presentation, the leadership in this group was more of a
collective culture than an individual one.
During the making of our film I could see the four stages of
development, as proposed by Tuckman and Jensen in 1965, unfolding. These
include: forming, storming, norming and performing (Tuckman, & Jensen 1965; as
cited in Business balls (n.d.). In the forming stage, the group was highly
dependent on me to provide guidance and direction as to what each person would
be doing in the group. Individual roles and responsibilities were unclear as we
had just met each other and I was not able to gauge people’s strengths and
weaknesses straight away. So, throughout the film making process we had to
change people roles. For example, some group members did not want to be in the
film but as time went on they changed their minds, consequently, we had to
re-shoot parts of the film to include them.
moved in to the storming stage conflicts started to emerge as two team members began
to vie for higher positions in relation to other team members and myself (the
leader). I noticed that small factions and cliques began to form as we got to
know each other. People from the same cultural backgrounds became closer, for
example, I bonded better with those that were English or lived in England
compared to those from countries outside the United Kingdom. To avoid becoming
distracted by relationships and emotion, I was willing to allow people to express
themselves and their ideas to avoid being like the leader of my marketing group
and affecting the team’s performance.
to the norming stage in which everyone had to agree on an idea in order for it
to be executed. At this stage, our responsibilities are obvious and everyone is
pleased with what they are doing. However, intuition is encouraged and small
task were given to individuals or small teams within the group. The groups
commitment and togetherness became strong, through engaging in fun and social
activities, such having meals together. This allows us to discuss and develop
our working style. I was then more inclined to share some of leadership to
other members and become more of a facilitating leader, that provides support,
rather than a directive one. By the final stage, performing, of Tuckman and Jensen’s four stages of development our team has become more strategically
aware; everyone knows clearly what they are doing and why. The team has a shared
view and is capable of operating on its own without interference or
participation from myself or the two other main leaders. Disagreements that occur
in the storming stage are now resolved within the team, and all necessary
changes to the way we work are made by the team. The team is able to work
towards our goal, while retaining the relationship we have and solving arising
problems efficiently. Although the team might require tasks set my myself, they
do not need to be instructed or assisted. They might seek assistance with
personal and interpersonal development.
The four styles in situational leadership are directing, coaching, supporting
and delegating (Hersey, & Blanchard, 1969, 1977, 1988, slide 8). Situational
leadership links to the 4 stages of development in that you can see the
leadership characteristics changing though out the 4 stages of forming,
storming, norming and performing respectively.
In the forming stage, I noticed I was more of directing
leader in terms of telling people what to do, not in a dictatorship way. This
type of leadership was needed at the start of our project in order to get
things going. To some extent, it is like micro-management, I told them what to
do and when to do it by and they did it with no support. This part of leadership
was hard for me because I am not used to telling people what to do, nonetheless
I had to put on a brave face. The storming stage saw me being more of a coach
and trying to sell my film ideas to the rest of the group, rather than telling
them what we are going to do. This allowed me to receive ideas that the others
may have in order to improve my idea and make the best film we could make. With
this type of leadership, I could provide a lot of support to the group in order
to help them get our ideas across, from paper to video. At this stage I noticed
I was providing praise and compliments to help build relationships and team self-worth.
This will raise the confidence of the team and in turn improve the quality of
By the norming stage, the team skills and confidence are
higher than ever, and with my secondary leaders, this meant I did not have to
give much direction anymore. All decisions at the point had to be agreed upon
by majority of group members, I was mainly there for support and to participate
in the video shoot.
In the performing stage, the group did not need directing,
coaching or support. This is because everyone knows what part they are playing
in the process or making the film, therefore most of the responsibility has now
been passed on to members of the group. This means my job was to delegate and
oversee what each person or group was doing.
Yet again, there is a strong tie between team culture, the
four stages of development and situational leadership. At the forming and storming
stages, there was a lot of individualism because we were unfamiliar with each
other, so everyone was looking out for their own best interest. For example, I
took the role as leader and I was quite directing in order to implement my idea
on the group, which formed a command leadership that was autocratic and based
on the groups compliance. As we went through the norming and performing stages,
the group dynamic shifted towards a more collective culture that was democratic
and relied on the groups commitment and input. This can be seen by the
emergence of the two secondary leaders who were looking out or their own best
interest (not as much as I was), to everyone being a leader in their own right
at the delegating and performing stages.
Being the only guy in the group it was obvious that the
overall culture was going to be a feminine one. That being said, a feminine
culture can be very valuable; it helped us resolve our conflicts in the storming stage through negotiation and
compromise unlike my marketing group, that was predominantly male. Females in
general tend to value relationships and people’s wellbeing. This was evident in
our group when I was invited to join some of them in a social activity. A good
team chemistry allowed me to delegate with ease, leading the team to performing
like a well-oiled machine.
Having done a marketing presentation prior to this one, most
of us tried to approach the task in hand through what Hofstede would call a
short-term orientation culture (Hofstede, 1984). At the beginning, everyone was
protecting their individual selves and we were looking for quick results. We
soon realized we did not need to rush, mainly because we had a lot of time, but
also because we needed to look past the short-term tasks (research) and focus
on the long-term ones (the film). The long-term orientation culture emerged
naturally because of the long-lasting relationship we built, which stemmed from
preexisting group cultures. This allowed us to patiently make decisions about
the future and what short term tasks we had to do to ensure that out final film
was as good as it could be.
These three theoretical concepts: stages of development,
situational leadership and group culture linked quite nicely in explaining how
my group worked from the beginning right to the very end.
In conclusion, I would like to put forward a definition for leadership. Bill Clinton believes that “Leadership is more a state of mind than a
place in a hierarchy.” (Clinton (n.d.); as cited by Kruse, 2013). I have learned through this project that
leadership can be both hierarchy and state of mind. With that said, my
definition of leadership would be to combine Warren Bennis’ idea of leadership
with Bill Gates’. Gates says, “As we look ahead into
the next century, leaders will be those who empower others.” (Gates (n.d.); as cited by Kruse,
This is a good definition; however, it is incomplete in the sense that you can
empower people mentally but that does not mean it will then become physical.
This is where Bennis’ definition comes in. He believed, “Leadership
is the capacity to translate vision into reality.” (Bennis (n.d.); as cited by Kruse,
2013). With these two combined, a
leader is someone that empowers people by helping them turn their vision into a
reality. Throughout the course of the film making process I believed I was a
good leader but most importantly an even better team mate.
such a diverse group culture, we faced some challenges such and language barriers
and cultural difference. On the other hand, a multicultural team provided us
with limited ‘group think’, which means we were never short of ideas when it
came to approaching a task.
In terms of the future, I believe
that it is very difficult to make suggestion about how to improve and become a
better leader and team mate, because to be a great leader and team mate you
have to know how to lead your followers, each group of people will not be the
same, therefore you will have to decide what kind of leadership is required. If,
however, we had to do this project again with the same team, I would try to
speed up the forming, storming and norming stages in order to have more time
for performing. I would also try to be more organized and assertive in certain
areas such as meeting arrangement.