Groups, Teams, and Organizations

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Overview

There’s an African proverb that states, “If you want to go fast, go alone. If you want to go far, go together.”

Most businesses exemplify this wisdom. A collection of individuals working as a team results in more creative, more efficient, and more effective work than individuals working alone. To accomplish larger goals and harness the power of individuals and teams, organizations structure themselves into large, complex, multi-department, multi-level organizations.

When you first join an organization, you will likely begin as an individual contributor, largely responsible for producing quality work for your client or supervisor. However, even in this role, you will be part of a team or small unit or department and, of course, also part of a larger complex organization. Because of this, it is important that, in addition to your specialized skills, you understand and can navigate the challenges and opportunities that these settings provide. The content of the Groups, Teams, and Organizations Skill will help you understand these dynamics so that you can apply team and organizational leadership principles in your organizations.

For example, if you better understand how in-person teams differ from virtual teams, you can adjust your communication style. Understanding how teams develop over time will help you navigate changes in team dynamics. Similarly, depending on the type of organizational culture you work in, certain behaviors and actions will be more or less accepted by coworkers and supervisors.

It is also very likely you will ascend to a team leadership position at some point. Not only do team leaders need to understand team dynamics, they must also be able to apply leadership principles to ensure teams work well together and accomplish their goals. You’ll need to know how to get a set of individuals to form together as a team, work through conflicts, and commit to common goals. Team leaders must foster effective communication and collaboration, while balancing team structure and team empowerment. Finally, team leaders need to keep their teams organized and on-track, as well as reward and recognize team success.

Finally, while it is unlikely you will be an organizational-level leader early on, understanding organizational structure, culture, politics, and change will make you more effective on day one and will also help as you move up in the organization. Understanding how to network within your company while avoiding the dark side of organizational politics will help you stand out in a positive way. Further, it is increasingly important to be able to navigate change in your organization—becoming an adaptable life-long learner will help you in the long run. Finally, later on, you may become an organizational-level leader, and all of these concepts will help you lead with more skill and confidence.

Throughout this set of materials, you’ll review concepts, watch interesting videos, think your way through challenging cases, and take quizzes to test your knowledge. You’ll hear directly from a professional theater director and a chief human resources officer on how they get the best out of their teams and organizations.

Becoming a team or organizational leader is a rewarding pursuit. This set of content can help you develop this very important skillset.

Further Reading

Behson, S. J., & Bear, S. E. (2019). We hate team projects: A friendly, useful guide for student project teams. Kendall-Hunt.
Dyer, W. G., Jr., Dyer, J. H., & Dyer, W. G. (2013). Team building: Proven strategies for improving team performance (
5th ed.
). Wiley/Jossey-Bass Publishers.
Levi, D. (2014). Group dynamics for teams (
4th ed.
). Sage.
Tuckman, B. (1965). Developmental sequence in small groups. Psychological Bulletin, 63(6), 384399.
Shapiro, M. (2015). HBR guide to leading teams (
6th ed.
). Harvard Business School Press.