Jahnavi Shah

PhD Student, Planetary Science

Team Management 2.0

Happy May!

This is a follow-up on a previous post about team management which you can read here, if interested. To summarize though, it relates to my experience managing the Science Rendezvous (at Western) Communications Committee and the Tuckman’s stages of group development. I looked over past year’s notes before I took on the same role earlier this year. I thought this would be a time to reflect and summarize as Science Rendezvous comes to a close this Saturday, May 8, 2021.

One of the key take-aways from last year’s experience was that I needed to improve task delegation. I think I managed to improve (a little, at least!) partly because I was busier so I needed to delegate. Another reason being that I also had more reliable committee members this time around. In addition, I found meetings this year to be more “formal”, or rather just more on-topic, since they were virtual. It was definitely a very different experience than last year. Going back to the stages of group development for a second though, I didn’t really find myself noting the different stages, like I was trying to do last year. There wasn’t much variation in our interactions to even try to pinpoint the start or end of different stages. So even though, I think we functioned well as a group and completed tasks, it felt a bit lacking and disengaged. But that is due to the virtual nature of the interactions and events, and not necessarily the people involved.

But as always, I like to look back and reflect on what I’ve learned from the process. More specifically, I wanted to reflect on my leadership style (and how that might have differed from previous years). I came across the six styles of leadership according to Daniel Goleman, an internationally known psychologist and science journalist.

  • Affiliative: creates emotional bonds and harmony
  • Democratic: builds consensus through participation
  • Commanding: demands immediate compliance
  • Pacesetting: sets high standards for performance and self-direction
  • Visionary: mobilizes people toward a vision
  • Coaching: develops people for the future

Reading more about this, D. Goleman relates the different leadership styles to emotional intelligence of the leader. I’ll save that for another time because it requires more reading and research. Looking only at the general description of each style, I can tell that my style this year was quite different than last year. I think I’ve rarely implemented the commanding style, mainly because most situations don’t demand it. And certainly not for SR situations, because I work with mostly graduate (and some undergraduate) students. I think last year, I used a combination of affiliative, visionary, democratic, and coaching. Since the event was set to be in-person, it was easier to motivate the team towards a common vision. This was not true for this year as even I was unaware of the event would look like. We also had more planning time last year to utilize the democratic approach and invite different perspectives. Although I still tried to invite ideas and opinions this year, we were more limited on time and resources, so the decisions were definitely not as democratic. This year, my leadership approach was mostly pacesetting with hints of coaching and democratic. I mainly practiced setting tasks and deadlines. I’m aware that leadership approaches depend on the situation, but it’s interesting to see the change resulting from going virtual.

More reflections to come later…

In the meantime, I encourage you all, if you’ve participated in leadership activities, how your approach has changed (due to things being virtual, or otherwise).

Till next time!

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