Effective Leadership in a Self-Managing Product Development Team

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Today effective teamwork is critical for any business or organization as the needs of today require a multidisciplinary approach to tackling challenges and finding solutions to the pressing needs of today’s competitive environment. Effective teams require three crucial components to be able to deliver on their respective mandate. First, the team members must have a high level of emotional intelligence to be able to interact with other team members without conflict. Secondly, the team requires a clear goal, vision or expectation to fulfil or accomplish. Last but most importantly, an effective team requires leadership. Leadership is “the verbal and non-verbal communication that facilitates a team’s transactional and task processes in achieving members’ and the team’s needs and goals.” (Lumsden, Lumsden & Wiethoff, 2010). This paper will examine the case of a self-managing product development team at TotsToys Corporation and diagnoses its deficiencies and recommend strategies of leadership and conflict management and resolution.

Several problems are evident in the team under study that consists of Smithers, Norrosky, Schumacher, Harrington, Rossi, Lee and Vonich, Toys Division Director. First, morale is quite low in the team with team members remarking that they feel frustrated by the lack of progress and also the fact that the team has not had any output in terms of product reinforces this fact. There is also a lot of infighting in the team particularly between Smithers and Harrington eroding the team’s ability to deliver. There is also a breakdown in communication among team members illustrated by the numerous meetings that degenerate into heated arguments. Additionally, the team does not have any defined goals or priorities thus the team has a direction to follows.

Based on the evidence extracted from the case study under examination, the leadership style of this particular team is of the Laissez-Faire Leadership type. This is shown by the limited input and abdication of duties (Skogstad, Einarsen, Torsheim, Aasland & Hetland, 2007). These signs are seen in the team’s appointed leader Vonich who prefers to unofficially delegate his leadership duties to Harrington who lack the experience. Moreover, Harrington lacks the respect of his fellow team members who feel that he is more concerned with earning a promotion rather than assisting the team to achieve its goals. As expected in the event of the poor execution of this leadership style “productivity, quality, involvement and satisfaction suffer” (Lumsden, Lumsden & Wiethoff, 2010).

For the team to function and deliver on its mandate, several issues must be discussed and negotiated. Most importantly the issue of leadership in the team has to be determined. A democratic process in which team leaders anonymously vote for a member who they feel is best qualified for the position will be sufficient. The issue of a shared vision or goal among the team members must also be negotiated. The team must explicitly share the vision and generated within it to make it acceptable to all in the team (Lynn, 2015).

Conflict resolution is a major aspect of teamwork as conflicts are bound to emerge as team members differ on issues as they execute their responsibilities. To resolve conflicts, it is important to understand their nature. For this one must assess its importance, determine its source, determine its focus and member’s views on the issue causing the conflict (Lumsden, Lumsden & Wiethoff, 2010).

Thereafter, one can identify what the parties in the conflict want by asking them to define their concerns as clearly and as objectively as possible. Then ways or means of achieving a middle ground in which the needs of the parties are fulfilled and the insignificant issues identified and isolated. In the case of personal conflict, it is advisable to create an agreement to manage similar conflicts in the future should they arise.


Lumsden, G., Lumsden, D., & Wiethoff, C. (2010). Communicating in groups and teams (4th        ed., pp. 28,260,296). Australia: Wadsworth Cengage Learning.

Lynn, G. (2015). Vision And Its Impact On Team Success. Pressacademia, 4(4), 744. doi:      10.17261/pressacademia.2015414540

Skogstad, A., Einarsen, S., Torsheim, T., Aasland, M., & Hetland, H. (2007). The            destructiveness of laissez-faire leadership behavior. Journal of Occupational Health Psychology, 12(1), 80-92. doi: 10.1037/1076-8998.12.1.80

October 24, 2023



Corporations Management

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Company Leadership

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