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Amy Gade

LDRS 807: Leadership in Teams and Collaborative Environments


Team Competency Project-Final Reflection Paper
When I entered this course two months ago, upon learning we would
be working on a group project, my first thoughts were definitely negative.
Another group? Ive never been in a virtual team, how will that work? I have
to trust random strangers with my grade? So, Im probably going to end up
doing most of the work then? What terrible, horrible, no good, very bad
thoughts to have! These must be reactions of some of my past experiences
coming out to haunt me. Ill admit I was nervous, a little anxious, and
definitely stressed about this upcoming experience. In hindsight, I should
have been a little bit more excited, a little less anxious, and definitely more
positive about my pending knowledge gain and team experience
transformation.
My experience in the course of this class is definitely one for the books.
I think it was destiny that in a course about leadership in teams and
collaborative environments, I would land the absolute best and most
collaborative teammates and have the most positive team experience of my
short 28 years on this planet. Was it divine intervention or just time to see
teams in a more positive light? To tell you the truth, I think a little of both. In
this essay, I will discuss my transformational team experience, including my
main contributions, our team functionality, and my own personal strengths
and weaknesses in team work. I will also attempt to shed light on some

personal insights about myself in team situations, as well as my interactions


with others.
I believe my strongest contribution to the team was my ability to make
decisions. Oddly enough, that is usually my weak point in my personal life.
Most would call me pretty indecisive, but in my roles in academia and work, I
am often quite the opposite. I think especially in virtual teams, its important
to have that person that not only contributes to the discussion, but also
knows when it is time to make a decision and move forward to carry out a
plan, otherwise conversations could continue on forever and ever. I also
believe my sense of organization and attention to detail really helped our
team. For our final chapter on conflict in teams, I took the role of final
proofreader and formatter. I made many small punctuation and grammatical
corrections, as well as ensured that the chapter flowed in a logical way. I paid
close attention to Dr. Goertzens notes from our original chapter outline, as
well as the projects guidelines to ensure that all suggestions and
requirements were met.
As a team, I think our biggest contribution to the topic of conflict in
teams was our thoroughness. Not only did we address typical chapter needs,
like learning objectives, keywords, and concept definitions, but we also
discussed common conflict triggers, constructive and destructive conflict,
well known conflict theories, and the impact of conflict on the overall team
dynamic. I think we also took some unique angles, looking at conflict from
the traditional brick and mortar team perspective to the virtual and

cultural team perspectives. In doing so, I think we took a more modern


approach to conflict in todays common team dynamics.
Our team functioned phenomenally, in my opinion. In fact, this team
interacted way above my original expectations. I believe we each conducted
ourselves in a very committed, engaged, and mature team member manner.
It was our shared desire to do well in this course, along with our
understanding of each team members outside expectations that I believe
really lead to a strong cohesiveness. We really seemed to be on the same
page throughout the course of our team competency project as it related to
individual responsibilities and team deadlines. We set aggressive deadlines
to ensure plenty of time for final edits and submission, which each team
member met every single time. I believe this was a true sign of the respect
and trust we had for each other as teammates. I also believe it was our
utilization of the project manager role that helped our team function at its
strongest. The project manager role was a shared vision and the role was
assigned to a different team member for each collective team assignment.
The responsibilities of the project manager included compilation of a working
document, make suggested revisions, and submit final version to Dr.
Goertzen. Another helpful thing we did in our initial communications were to
identify our own strengths, which we felt would best serve the team. To no
surprise, these strengths (Matthew-APA style formatting, Amyproofreading/editing, Charles-thoroughness) were used often, especially in
making final revisions to our assignments.

I think one of my common strengths is to assume the role of the


leader, whether told or adopted. While I am not sure what makes me a good
leader or if I even am, I just believe it is a role I am comfortable in taking. I
know I can trust myself to get things done and in a team, who wouldnt want
a leader they couldnt trust? While I cant assume my teammates of past and
present have so readily trusted me, I too need a leader I can trust, so who
better than myself. Early on in our team communication, I was probably on
the same path to assume this role once again, but in putting a little more
trust in my team members and recognizing all I had to balance (a 2nd
graduate class, full time employment, home renovations, and relationships)
throughout the course of this class, I decided to step back a little bit and
allow each of us to serve as the leader in some capacity from project to
project. I think Thompsons (2011) concept that strong leadership isnt
always necessary to have a strong team. Maybe I didnt always have to take
the lead. And maybe there is someone else on my team equally as or even
more equipped to lead. A quote that particularly resonated with me, as I
reflect on my current and past leadership roles, is that leaders who control
all the details, manage all the key relationships in the teams, have all the
good ideas, and use the team to execute their vision are usually overworked
and underproductive (Thompson, 2011, p. 14). Sometimes in order to be the
active and successful team member I desire to be, I may be better suited as
just a team member and not always the leader in control.

The second concept from this course that I really challenged myself
with was simply my participation in a virtual team. Thompson (2011)
defines a virtual team as, a task-focused group that meets without all
members necessarily being physically present or even working at the same
time (p. 332). In reflecting on my past experiences, I am not sure Ive ever
been on a truly virtual team. Sure I have been on teams with colleagues from
various institutions across Nebraska, but each of those teams involved faceto-face meetings as well. Concepts from Chapter 13 on Teamwork via
Information Technology in Thompsons (2011) text, Making the Team: A
Guide for Managers, that I really attempted to focus on were the challenges
of virtual teams: increased time to make decisions, communication struggles,
and social norms. I worked diligently to be a good communicator, even if it
meant a simple post to acknowledge that I had seen and read a teammates
comments or making a post to determine the next steps for our team. As
mentioned earlier, I tried to lay down a course of action to make decisions,
so as not to be stalled within continuous back and forth postings. I also
helped our team identify important team norms early on in our
communication to ensure we all understood each others needs and
expectations for our group. I was pleasantly surprised with what just a small
bit of attention to these three challenges of virtual teams did for my and my
teams overall function as a virtual team.
One of the biggest insights I have gained about myself in team
interactions is that constant need to be in control. While Im sure I knew I

was doing it in the past, it was honestly just something that subconsciously
happened. Again, I often dont think leaders know they are being leaders or
even what it is about themselves that makes them a good leader. What
intrigued me most in this particular team experience is just how okay I was
not jumping to be the leader. Although I believe we each had moments of
leadership within the team, it actually felt good to share that leader role with
others and I think I was a more productive team member because of it. I, of
course, acknowledge my innate ability to look at most situations
pessimistically; however, this course has brought insight into how wrong I
can be about group work. I am hoping this will enable me to enter group
situations with a more positive outlook on team interactions, individual
responsibilities, and overall productiveness. The last bit of insight I gained
about myself in team roles is that I often come in with guns a-blazing. I am
eager and often overcommit myself. In moving forward, I think it will be
important in future teams that I ease in to my role and commitments, giving
consideration to the reality of what I am balancing at the present time and
what I may be able to accomplish for myself and team.
A few insights I have gathered about working with people in teams is
our dislike, or almost fear, of teamwork and what that fear is most often
about. While I believe most of us would call ourselves good team members,
we are often not fans of working in teams. I believe a huge part of the
undesirableness of teamwork is the fear of social loafers or free riders. No
one likes to be brought down or be force to rise up to accommodate those

who arent contributing, especially when the outcome (grade, raise, success)
is going to be shared amongst all team members. While these situations are
all too common in teams, its important not to assume that every team will
be this way. Bringing a positive attitude into teamwork surely wont hurt
anything.
I was pleasantly surprised with my team experience in this course.
Matthew Smoot and Charles Lindberg truthfully set the bar extremely high
for my future teammates. These gentlemen were two of the most committed,
dedicated, responsible teammates Ive ever had. They help remind me that
not every team member will be bad and those that are will remind us of the
teammate we dont want to be. I enjoyed working with these two, I enjoyed
creating a chapter on conflict in teams, and I thoroughly enjoyed our class
textbook and discussions. I feel in my current role, as middle manager of a 5
person team, my understanding of leadership in teams is improved. I have
gained a lot of new knowledge and skills, as well as a new, and positive,
team experience to bring to my work team and role as leader.