When it comes to the successful delivery of pieces of work it seems to me that the one thing that stands out above all else is how people co-operate and collaborate to ‘get the job done’. Now this isn’t saying that technology, processes, systems and methodologies are of no use, of course they are, they allow people to gain an understanding of how to complete their tasks and assist in that completion. Those systems and methodologies are worthless on their own. It is only their intelligent use by human beings that enables work to move forward and projects to be delivered.
Everyone who has been on a training course will remember what it is like to be given a task as a group and told to go away and come back in a set period of time with your group’s answer. There are many things at play here not least of which is the development of a group dynamic for the period of the course (or maybe just that one task). What often happens though is that after a period of everyone talking about what needs to be done and how it could be achieved one individual starts to provide the lead. It might be soon after the group has been told to start or it may take some time.
How long it takes for that leader to come forward does in itself say something about individual drives. Does the self appointed-leader who comes forward straight away believe they are best placed or are they used to taking control in situations? What are the thoughts of the leader who gradually appears from the pack after a period of time? Did they get frustrated at the lack of action in moving forward or did they decide that as no-one else had done so they had better get on with it as they were running out of time and wouldn’t achieve their goal? Whatever their reasoning the fact that they took the plunge and started to provide the lead allows everyone else in the group to stop worrying about that aspect of the group working and start concentrating on the task at hand.
So does this happen back in the workplace? Well, perhaps not when we are thinking about the appointment of CEOs but throughout each and every organization every day of the year there are situations where groups of people have to come together to achieve particular tasks or projects. A leader will be appointed for significant projects but even in this instance there will be parts of the project when his or her specialist knowledge and experience doesn’t fit the need of the piece of work. Rather than blundering through and trying to make it work more experienced and self-aware leaders will let the best person for that aspect of work come to the for. Better still, if they ask for someone better suited to step forward they are sending out a huge message of trust in their project team.
The training course scenario is more often replicated when groups of individuals are obliged to collaborate in order to get their normal business objectives achieved. Some people will automatically assume the lead, which can help or hinder depending on the way they approach it or the culture of the organization. Other groupings will work together co-operatively for a period of time until maybe only an outsider looking in will recognize that one individual is directing operations.
All groups of people who need to achieve tasks or projects will have someone within their midst who is providing the lead. That individual may be self-appointed and may or may not be fully accepted by the rest of the group or they may emerge over a period of time as the one person steering the group forward towards their goal.