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Leading Practice in a Multi-professional Team

Leading Practice in a Multi-professional Team

Introduction

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Leadership is a process of influencing others to accomplish the objectives of an organisation and directing a group of individuals in achieving a common goal. However, some challenges come with leading a team of multi-professionals. Warren notes: “I used to think that running an organisation was equivalent to conducting a symphony orchestra. But I don’t think that’s quite it; it’s more like jazz. There is more improvisation” (2007, p. 58). Therefore, it is important to study the challenges in leadership so that we can understand the qualities of good leadership and what it takes to lead an organisation to accomplish its objectives successfully.

Many people assume that a good leader is also a good manager, both concepts are quite distinct, and understanding the distinction can help understand what it means to be a good leader or manager. Managing is more precise on details and small scale compared to leadership; leaders set goals and plans while managers execute the intends to achieve the goals. Managers implement specific areas of their responsibility, contain and manage risks in the organisation, and only pay attention to details (Davies et al., 2011, p. 100). On the other hand, leaders focus on an organisation’s needs, set goals, and a direction to achieve the goals, they inspire and mentor the team toward a direction of success and are focused on long-term and high-level discussion. An organisation or a multi-professional team requires people who are good in both, with good management and bad leadership, and tasks will be executed well but without any direction or overall strategy. When there are good leadership and bad management, goals will be set but no one will complete them successfully. As such, it is important for an association to have competent leaders and managers for the team to achieve its goals.

Each organisation has its culture; these are the routines, crisis, history, and current leadership. A leader creates the climate in an organisation, he or she influences the individual attitudes and perceptions of the team (Konopaske, 2010, p. 144). While culture is deeply rooted in the structure, the climate is short-term and is created by the current leadership. The environment largely influences the performance of the workers, their motivation and satisfaction depend on the perceptions of their leader and depend on how well he or she clarifies the objectives.

In 2010, the United States government had the mandate to provide a “school for all,” and it was the responsibility of school leaders to ensure that they provide an education for all children. Many school leaders were expected to take a more proactive role in assisting teachers and students create inclusive classrooms. It was a patent for all school leaders to believe and understand the philosophy of inclusion and motivating teachers rather than relying on training colleges for teachers (Gasper, 2010, p. 45). Leaders were expected to take a more active role to accommodate inclusive changes, promote professional development and develop incentives for learning. Instructional leaders were important because they acted as day-to-day managers of the school and controlled the school by evaluating teachers and timetabling them.

Research commissioned by the employers’ network for Equality and inclusion to understand inclusive leadership, revealed that leadership matters most in an organisation. Leaders set the vision that leads toward the team’s goal and creates a warm motivating climate for the workers so that the goals can be achieved (Cunliffe, 2013, p. 407). According to Ken Blanchard, Professor at Cornell University, competent leaders turn a good organisation into a great one, while weak leaders ‘send a great organisation downhill.’ For leaders to become more acceptable, they need to be inclusive by sharing their responsibilities with other workers through the delegation of duties. They should recognize the importance of individualized support and personal vision by supporting their employees through competence building. They need to understand the individual needs of others rather than controlling them to meet their desired goals (Halliger, 2010, p. 180).

The Norwegian inclusive education policy states that ‘every person shall be provided optimal learning conditions in the regular learning context as far as possible’ (Norwegian Ministry of Education and Research, 2008 p. 10). Principals were expected to search for qualified staff and ensure structures are in place for proper communication; this was essential to making sure that everybody in the organisation or school was attended to and achieved their purpose (Aubrey, 2011 p. 179). For the policy of inclusive education to be successful, the leaders in schools needed to be competent enough to deal with challenges that come with including special needs children in the regular schools.

Avolio and Yammarino (2013) contend that the quality and success of childcare programs depend on the type of leadership provided to the staff by the director of the center. The research was conducted in Australia by the childcare organisation, to investigate leadership in childcare in an economic, legislative, and social context (Greenwood et al., 1994, p. 200). The study involved seven directors from various child care centers, and this helped the researchers gain a broader perspective of their daily lives because different environmental conditions were expected to influence leadership and management within the centers. The results showed that the leaders need to have proper training and experience in management to enhance their role and achieve positive results in the centers despite the challenges brought about by today’s competitive environment. For leaders to be able to successfully lead multi-professional teams, they need to be adequately trained and experienced in business management and have the perception that everybody in the organisation matters and contributes to the primary purpose of the team.

According to the Child Care Act (2004), kindergartens and long-day centers meant for children from birth to school age were to provide sessional programs for the children (Discroll, 2016, p. 331-348). These institutions had directors and a few staff that made sure they took care of these children in the absence of their parents (Pugh & Duffy, 2014, p.101). Their role was to teach the children how to communicate and interact safely; they taught those mannerisms and how to use certain objects. The directors of these child care centers were required to be competent in leadership because they were faced with challenges such as complex funding systems from several levels of government. Their role was to ensure that they meet state rules and accreditation standards put in place by the National Childcare Accreditation Council (1993).

In Queensland, a director for a child care center is required to have an advanced diploma in child care and a degree (Child Regulation, 2010 p.150). Group leaders should hold credentials in child care and education (equivalent to two years of full-time study). A director’s responsibilities in child care were diverse, ensuring health regulations are met, managing administrative tasks, and overseeing the quality of programs. Recent research by Black (2012), revealed that a director’s responsibilities were diverse and complex in nature. Many centers employ a lot of workers, and the management of all these staff is a concern for the leaders in the quality of the staff (Pugh et al., 2011 p. 200).

Research by Berthelsen, from the cost quality and outcomes study team, has shown that turnover is high in childcare centers because of low wages and poor working conditions (National Children’s Bureau, 2011 p. 125). The leaders in these institutions are required to have excellent communication skills to be able to work with the kids, micro, and macro community. Leadership in early childhood centers has a huge effect on the teaching approach of the center, the director’s ability to make right or wrong decisions influences the interpersonal relationships within the center (Rodd 2013 p.101). When good decisions are made in the organisation’s environment, the staff feel more motivated and dedicated to achieving the center’s objectives and empowering each other.

Despite the development of childcare centers in the United States and Australia, little has been done to encourage directors to pursue formal education. Many employers feel it is not necessary for leaders to seek formal education. Leadership training is critical to the program’s success and quality. Leaders in child care centers are directly linked to the performance of the Centre (Aubrey 2011 p.99). Therefore a leader needs to recognize that a system should always anticipate positive change and achieve positive results. The director needs to embrace and support positive change which leads to the improvement of the organisation’s missions and aims. Leaders also need to look into the local communities’ needs because they play a huge role in the center.

Newman et al. (2015) note that a director who has undergone training in leadership and administration could manage the center and deliver quality service to the children. Effective leaders balance concern for tasks and productivity with genuine concern for people (Newman et al., 2015, p. 203-221). They first seek the opinions of the staff and children and also the community around them before they make a decision on an important matter concerning the organisation (Gasper, 2011, p. 146). A director also monitors the performance of others and tries to motivate the little performing members; they also recognize that all parts of the body play a significant role in ensuring success for the center.

Transformational leadership brings innovation and ensures the team achieves its mandate. This type of leadership involves distributing leadership by empowering others. Hence transformational leaders do not lead alone. Anderson et al. (2013) are of the view that transformational leadership “…rests on a changed set of assumptions about the re-articulation of work as a part of a changing division of labor.” (p. 64). Transformational leaders also share responsibilities among their employees through delegation of responsibilities and believe that everyone matters on the road to success. These leaders model important organisational values and continue to develop the professionalism of their workers. They share decision-making and build relationships with the school community (Jantzi et al., 2013, p. 77-101). Therefore, they enhance individual performance, increase innovation and attract talented people with diverse thoughts and skills leading to the success of the team. Burns (2013) has endeavored to explain the concept of transformational leadership in research on political leaders. According to Burns, transformational leadership involves the effort of both the leaders and followers to advance to a better level of motivation. The transforming approach redesigns perceptions and changes the expectations of employees; it is based on the leader’s character and skills to show change through example.

Robbins et al. (2010) also support and extend Burns’ work by the psychological mechanisms that underlie transformational leadership; he explains how transforming leadership could be measured and the impact on the followers. The victory of an inclusive leader is based on his or her influence on the members. The followers have to trust their leader to believe and follow his decisions; the leader works harder than the members to show an example (Robbins et al., 2009 p.120). The leader shows their members that every worker is critical to the objectives of the organisation and gives them an exciting mission and an identity.  According to Bass and Bass (2008), over three decades of research reveal that transformational leadership is indicative of diverse performance outcomes at the organisational, group, and individual levels.

Effective team management requires excellent leadership skills and the right expertise. Leaders with a unique combination of knowledge and skill can build an efficient team that can achieve positive results. An effective team leader should be able to differentiate between general team building and goals for projects for which you will need to create a good team (Smith et al., 2010 p.150). The leader should also be able to communicate effectively with their team members and show them how important they are to the whole project. Motivation is essential for workers to perform efficiently. Hence team leaders should be able to motivate their team members and empower them to make their decisions. Rather than feel threatened by creativity, good team leaders should encourage it.

Ritchie (2014) indicates that leadership entails vision and the need for change through improvement. However, such a vision can only be realised in collaboration with others who shared the same vision.  To sustain a highly efficient educational system requires a competent leader who can engage others in the operation of the institution. It is unlikely that one person, for example, the principal, will be able to manage a learning organisation and ensure it succeeds. That is why transformational leadership is a vital leadership style (Bennett, 2010, p. 150). Suffice it to say; there is an undeniable voice that suggests that a more original leadership style is one that is dispersed. Hence some New Zealand schools applied a transformational leadership style to improve performance (Harris et al., 2010, p. 634-652).

Multi-professional collaboration for development and innovation is an important issue in education and business, this model is critical, especially in this era of global competition for innovation. Famous design firms like the International Design and Consulting firm (IDEO), have used multidisciplinary collaboration in solving complex challenges and creating new products. In design education, the collaboration between computer science and art has provided an environment where students are encouraged to explore boundaries in their practice and better understand their role and value in a team of multi-professionals. The capability to connect successfully to share ideas and thoughts is a benefit that comes with multi-professional work. Everyone in the team can get acquainted with the process of product development hence everyone contributes their skills effectively in the process (Robbins et al., 2009 p. 79). It also fosters collaboration skills, having different backgrounds and knowledge requires excellent collaboration skills, and workers become flexible and friendly and can freely share their ideas in a mild-mannered way. All participants complement each other because they feel that everyone has contributed to the primary goal and they have learned from each other.

The research was conducted by the Global training workshop in 2012, on the aspects of group dynamics. The results revealed that any time people are talking or working together, there are group dynamics. Team roles are mostly influenced by a person’s personality and experience with group settings. Teams are formed to solve a problem of accomplishing a particular task, hence for a team to address a problem; they need to foster good communication skills (Gasper, 2011, p. 50). Sharing information among the members is crucial in keeping the team together since no one will feel left out. Each member of the organisation has a contribution to make, and it is as important as everyone’s contribution. Members should observe what they think, what they perceive, and what they feel towards an idea. A team leader should be able to communicate effectively with the members and make sure that everybody understands the objectives of the team.

Excellent communication in a team or a group creates a free climate where ideas can be freely shared, and decisions are easily made. Arriving at a decision can be difficult for a group, some groups result in voting. According to Boulding (2014), the right leadership is based on good communication and a strong devotion to the organisation and its members. Everything that a leader does affects the performance and well-being of the employees in an organisation. The skill of a manager to link his or her plans effectively to the team motivates the members and makes them feel they have a huge role to play to ensure that the team attains its goals. Communication increases trustworthiness which keeps a leader’s position relevant to the organisation.

Effective educational leadership solely depends on communication between teachers, students, and the principal, to sustain educational leadership, a leader is required to maintain the way they approach learning and teachers in schools (Rodd, 2006, p. 100). Exceptional leaders have a dream for their institutes and scholars; they share this vision with the faculty and students through proper communication and delegation of responsibilities.

Leaders in education influence the whole system through their thoughts, feelings, and behaviors and ensure that their vision is the primary objective of creating a strategic plan for the whole system (Peretomod et al., 2016, p. 99-117). They listen and seek other people’s views and take account of these views so that they can make conscious choices that will lead to the greater group of the school or institution. Leaders face particular challenges during their practice; such challenges include developing the required skills to be able to manage the team or organisation. Abilities such as time controlling, creative thinking, and being able to prioritize tasks are relatively difficult to develop. Another challenge is being able to inspire others to work smarter and make sure they are satisfied with their positions and work efficiently. Improving the performance of other workers and developing their skills is also a great challenge because the leader has to be around the workers to measure their performance and expertise. Heatley (2014) opines that “the nature of the global business environment guarantees that no matter how hard we work to create a stable and healthy organisational environment; our organisation will continue to experience dramatic changes far beyond our control.” (2003, n.p.).

An effective leader should take an active role in coaching and mentoring others, to promote them to top positions (that is. trumpet their views). By providing mentorship and guidance to team members, a leader increases the performance of the team and organisation as a whole (Gasper, 2011, p. 79). He or she should assume roles such as providing a shoulder for others to lean on and also ensuring that the organisational systems enable accountability. It is crucial as a leader to make sure that you meet the psychological needs of your employees. Many people desire to be validated by others, hence as a leader, you need to give positive compliments to the team members so that they can feel they are a part of the team. Leaders need to be proactive and deal with change in a positive way. To ensure efficient management, a leader should form strong relationships and build strategic networks with people (Robbins et al., 2009 p.130-134). These systems help them achieve success by providing an accessible environment through which resources and business ideas can be shared among the members.

Conclusion

A leader faces many challenges in leading a team of multi-professionals. However, good leaders have obtained the required skills to overcome these difficulties and propel the organisation to success. Also, the type of leadership in an organisation dictates the results and achievements of the team. An excellent leader can inspire his or her team members and communicate their plans and decisions effectively to the members, making them feel needed and motivated to work toward the success of the organisation. On the other hand, the weak leader takes the role of a single person and ends up failing the whole team.

 

 

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