Sunday, July 31, 2011

Team Leader Performance Functions

Team leadership is one critical component to a teams success. Zaccaro et al. (2001) identified that teams are required to successfully integrate individual actions, operate in an emerging complex environment, and provide some form of team leadership to define its goals and tasks. In a previous post I identified that team members were not too concerned about the type of leadership that a team was exposed to - as long as fundamental leadership characteristics were being practiced. Zaccaro et al. (2001) concluded: "effective leadership processes represent perhaps the most critical factor in the success of organizational teams" (p. 452).

A team leaders' actions need to be designed to match the circumstances of the group - "not just any leadership action contributes to group effectiveness" (Zaccaro et al., p. 455). Burke et al. (2006) described that a leader is effective "to the degree that he/she ensures that all functions critical to task and team maintenance are completed" (p. 289). This requires the leader to continuously monitor the progress of the team, thus operating in a dynamic environment. This constant alignment of a leaders' actions to meet the needs of the group are supported by Burkes' et al. (2006) definition of team leadership: "team leadership can be described as a dynamic process of social problem solving accomplished through generic responses to social problems" (p. 289). Fleishman et al. (1991) also identified team leadership as a social problem solving activity where he provided a taxonomy of leadership performance functions that can aid a leader to better align his/her actions to match the circumstances of the group. This taxonomy consists of:

1) Information Search and Structuring
2) Information Use in Problem Solving
3) Managing Personnel Resources
4) Managing Material Resources

Information search and structuring refer to a leader's acquisition, evaluation, and organization of information pertaining to the teams goals. This first dimension, Information Search and Structuring, is composed of three subordinate dimensions: a) acquiring information, b) organizing and evaluating information, and c) feedback and control (Zaccaro et al, 2001). Information use in problem solving consist of the leader's application of information acquired for goal attainment. The second dimension, Information Use in Problem Solving, is made up of three subordinate dimensions: a) identifying needs and requirements, b) planning and coordinating, and c) communicating information (Zaccaro et al., 2001).

Both dimensions, Managing Personnel Resources and Managing Material Resources, involves the implementation of plans and solutions (Zaccaro et al., 2001). The Managing Personnel Resources dimension is composed of four subordinate dimensions: a) obtaining and allocating personnel resources, b) developing personnel resources, c) motivating personnel resources, and (d) utilizing personnel resources. The fourth dimension, Managing Material Resources, is made up of three subordinate dimensions: a) obtaining and allocating material resources, b) maintaining material resources, and c) utilizing and monitoring material resources (Zaccaro et al., 2001).

While it is not important that one single person, a single team leader, accomplish all of the functions listed in the taxonomy, it is important that these functions are completed, either by one single leader or through the distributed efforts of the team members. Listed below is the full taxonomy of team leader behaviors, provided by Fleishman et al., (1991):

Leader Behavior Dimensions
1. Information search and structuring
a. Acquiring information
b. Organizing and evaluating information
c. Feedback and control

2. Information use in problem solving
a. Identifying needs and requirements
b. Planning and coordinating
c. Communicating information
3. Managing personnel resources
a. Obtaining and allocating personnel resources
b. Developing personnel resources
c. Motivating personnel resources
d. Utilizing and monitoring personnel resources
4. Managing material resources
a. Obtaining and allocating material resources
b. Maintaining material resources
c. Utilizing and monitoring material resources


Burke, C. S., Stagl, K. C., Klein, C., Goodwin, G. F., Salas, E., & Halpin, S. M. (2006). What type of leadership behaviors are functional in teams? A meta-analysis. The Leadership Quarterly, 17, 288-307.

Fleishman, E. A., Mumford, M. D., Zaccaro, S. J., Levin, K. Y., Korotkin, A. L., & Hein, M. B. (1991). Taxonomic efforts in the description of leaders behavior: a synthesis and functional interpretation. The Leadership Quarterly, 2(4), 245-287.

Zaccaro, S. J., Rittman, A. L., & Marks, M. A. (2001). Team leadership. The Leadership Quarterly, 12, 451-483.

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Does Team Leadership Matter?

I recently conducted a brief survey measuring two different types of team leadership models: external team leadership and shared team leadership. Results indicated that there was no significant difference between the two types of team leadership models. This is based on the participants’ perceptions. A brief summary of the survey is provided below.

Introduction / Background

Today, organizations rely on teams more than ever due to the complex environment they operate in. Organizational performance relies, in part, on team effectiveness and on the teams’ leadership structure. Zaccaro, Rittman, and Marks (2001) stressed this point by indicating: “as many organizations move from a traditional hierarchical structure to a more team-based one, team processes have an increasingly important influence on leader and organizational effectiveness” (p. 477).

Despite the growing emphasis on team structures within the organizational landscape, Burke et al. (2006) identified that little is known between leader behaviors and team effectiveness. Zaccaro et al. (2001) indicated that little is known relating to how leaders manage effective teams: “In spite of vast literatures in both leadership and team dynamics, there are few conceptual frameworks of how leaders contribute systematically to team effectiveness” (p. 477).

Mathieu, Maynard, Rapp, and Gilson (2008) identified that external team leadership and shared leadership models “hold particular promise for future research efforts” (p. 449). External team leadership relates to the influence and authority that a leader has over a team; one who is responsible for the teams’ performance, one who serves as coordinator of operations, and one who is a liaison and guide for the team (Mathieu et al., 2008). Druskat and Wheeler (2003) identified that external leaders were a forgotten group - organizations concentrated more on building teams rather than supporting external team leaders. In contrast, shared leadership refers to the distribution of leadership duties among team members. Mathieu et al. (2008) identified that shared leadership “emerges from members’ collective knowledge, skills, and abilities” (p. 450).

Purpose of the Study

This survey adds to research efforts relating to team leadership, which comes at a critical time as more organizations rely on teams to become more effective in a complex environment. The purpose of this survey is to identify participant perceptions of different team leadership models: specifically external team leadership and shared team leadership.


The major findings from this survey indicated that there is no real difference between the types of leadership models incorporated in teams. Team effectiveness does not appear to be affected by the type of leadership model that is used.


Burke et al. (2006) identified the “examination of the conditions under which leadership matters the most is of the utmost importance” (p. 303). Future research could look at when leadership becomes an important component to team effectiveness.

Implications for Practice

This study indicated that team leadership style did not have an affect on team performance. This could hold true as long as good leadership practices are being followed. Participants had a preference to the type of team leadership that worked best for them, but data indicated they could perform in either type of team leadership model. Regardless of the team leadership model, as long as fundamental leadership practices are being performed team effectiveness should sustain, if not improve.

*Note: For full details about study request a copy in the comment section.


Burke, C. S., Stagl, K. C., Klein, C., Goodwin, G. F., Salas, E., & Halpin, S. M. (2006). What type of leadership behaviors are functional in teams? A meta-analysis. Leadership Quarterly, 17, 288-307. doi: 10.1016/j.leaqua.20060.2.007

Druskat, V. U., & Wheeler, J. V. (2003). Managing from the boundary: The effective leadership of self-managing work teams. Academy of Management Journal, 46(4), 435-457. Retrieved from

Faul, F., Erdfelder, E., Buchner, A., & Lang, A. (2009). Statistical power analysis using G*Power 3.1: Test for correlation and regression analyses. Behavior Research Methods 41(4), 1149-1160. doi: 10.3758/BRM.41.4.1149

Huck, S. W. (2008). Reading Statistics And Research (5th ed.). Boston, MA: Pearson

Lemieux-Charles, L., Murray, M., Baker, R. G., Barnsley, J., Tasa, K., & Ibrahim, S. A. (2002). The effects of quality improvement practices on team effectiveness: a meditational model. Journal of Organizational Behavior, 23, 533-553. doi: 10.1002/job.154

Mathieu, J., Maynard, M. T., Rapp, T., & Gilson, L. (2008). Team effectiveness 1997-2007: A review of recent advancements and a glimpse into the future. Journal of Management, 34, 410-476. doi: 10.1177/0149206308316061

Zaccaro, S. J., Rittman, A. L., & Marks, M. A. (2001). Team leadership. Leadership Quarterly, 12(4), 451-483. Retrieved from EBSCOhost.

Friday, July 8, 2011

Blog Carnivals

I have just recently learned about blog-carnivals.  A blog-carnival is set up so that numerous blogs about one specific topic are compiled by a host (there is a different host each month).  These blogs are compiled then posted so that anyone interested in that particular topic can view a large variety of related blogs.  The concept is remarkable and I am adding this to my blog post to inform others of this concept.

The most recent blog-carnival that I participated in is Dan McCarthy's (the host) Leadership Development Carnival.  You can find this selection of blogs at

One other host for blog-carnivals can be found at Laura Schroeders' blog  The next blog-carnival theme is 'The Talent Race' as posted on Lauras' blog page.

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