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Henry Tam and the MGI team

Henry Tam and the MGI team


When working with a team there is a number of issues that a leader of a group should address so as to ensure that the group works effectively. In group dynamics a leader should seek to understand the behavior of the team members and how the team works in attempting to make a decision or to solve a problem. A leader with expertise in team processes can help the team in achieving its objectives and aims by analyzing how the team is functioning in terms of decision making and problem solving, the leader should also be able to intervene and change the team's operating behavior.

A team is usually gathered for the purpose of accomplishing a given task, In the case of Henry Tam and the MGI team they are required to come up with a business plan within the contest deadline. There are a number of issues that challenge the team like team communication, analysis of issues and achieving group outcomes. In addressing this issues there needs to be a leader with expertise in group processes who will be helpful in playing the role of a facilitator. The team leader usually has a very strong influence on the team as he/she is tasked with the role of shaping the outcomes of the group. The influence that such a team leader has on the team will be determined by numerous factors namely; the leader's personality, relative age, sex appearance, income, race and also the organizational structure in the given organization. With respect to these factors, this section discusses the competencies, personal style, theory or model of leadership that is most effective for Henry Tam in leading the MGI team.

Primary challenges in the Henry Tam case and recommendations

Team communication.


Henry Tam and the MGI team

The issue of team communication was first studied by Robert Bales, a social psychologist. This research involved the analysis of contents of discussions in teams when making decisions about how human beings relate and the problems they face in organizations or families. Bales discovered important aspects on team communication. He discovered that team discussions tend to revolve around the task of the group and the discussions relating to the relationship between team members. he proposed that the concentration on communication on these aspects was as a result of an implicit attempt to create a sense of balance between group cohesion and the demands of task completion assuming that the conflict that arise during discussion of tasks results in stress among the team members and which can only be released through relational positive talk. He also realized that team discussion on tasks moves from the concentration on opinion exchange to decision making through consideration of the values that determine the decision in a linear phase model approach. He also established that the most vocal member of a team tends to make 40%-50% of all comments and the second most vocal member makes between 25%-30% of the comments, independent of the group size. As a result, larger teams tend to be dominated by 1 or 2 members at the expense of the others. (Bales, 1950)

In establishing good team communication it requires that both team members and leaders to have a mix of good attention, open mindedness and good manners. This will enable the establishment of harmonious relationships, clear understanding between team members, effective ideas sharing and the ability to appreciate other people's views and ideas.

Issues Analysis

In analyzing issues, a team can adopt a problem tree analysis approach. This approach is fundamental in project planning and is also widely used by development agencies. In problem tree analysis helps a team to find solutions to problems by mapping out the composition of the causes and effects that surround a given issue. This approach requires the team members to create an overhead transparency or flip chart, and as the process goes on factors are added into the conversations.

In problem tree analysis the team members start by agreeing and discussing the issue or


Henry Tam and the MGI team

problem to be analyzed. This issue or problem becomes trunk in the tree and it is put at the center of the flipchart, it becomes the focal point of the whole issue. In the next step, the team identifies the causes of the focal issue and this becomes the roots of the tree. The team later spot the consequences of the issue and this become the branches of the tree. The consequences and causes are written on post it cards or notes; they are generated by individuals or in pairs and are then arranged logically in a cause-effect sequence. In this exercise the center of dialogue, debate and discussion is on the factors which are arranged and rearranged thereby they form subdividing branches and roots. In this approach its is crucial that the team members are given adequate time to explain their reasoning and feelings, and capture related points and ideas that are presented on separate flipchart papers recorded as decisions, concerns and solutions. The advantages of the problem tree analysis include;

- The task can be broken down into definable and manageable units this enables the team to focus on its objectives and prioritize the factors.

- The team better understands the problem, how it is interconnected and the contradictory causes.

- This approach spots the constituent arguments and issues and enables the team to create a shared sense of action, purpose and understanding.

Achieving group outcomes.

In as much as groups outperform and work better as compared to individuals, the needs adequate time to develop the desired structure to perform. The preconditions for the establishment of a good structure depend on factors such as the stage of development and group cohesiveness. In achieving group outcomes the learning techniques can be categorized into two; performance or academic achievement and group cohesiveness, these two aspects will help a team to achieve both affective and cognitive goals. Group performance is defined the productivity of the group and cohesiveness addresses issues to do with race relations, group evaluation, and liking between group members. Group performance involves the outcome and process of each member's efforts in executing a collective goal while cohesion deals with the sense of community and solidarity. Research indicates that group cohesion influences the performance of a group; groups that pull in different directions cannot perform. Henry as the


Henry Tam and the MGI team

leader should address the issue of conflict and group cohesion in an effort to of maximizing the performance of the MGI team. (Appelbaum & Shapiro, 1998).

Leadership approach

The leadership of a team has an effect on how the team performs and develops. In the path-goal leadership theory, it describes the way leaders should support and encourage their followers in accomplishing the set goals by making the path easy and clear for the followers. Such a leader should clarify on the path that the subordinates should take so as to lead them on their way, he/she should also eliminate all obstacles that face a team and should increase their rewards along the way. Under the path-goal theory, there is the supportive leadership style. Under this style the leader is people oriented, they lead best in circumstances that need an individual who is patient, friendly, caring and supportive. Such leaders prefer a stable and slow environment and in most cases often resist change this is because they are worried of the risks that are associated with change and how change will affect his/her subordinates. (Evans, 1970)

Supportive leadership is suitable for Henry and the MGI team because as a leader he is able to cooperate better with the team mates in achieving the goals of that team. A supportive leader will show concern for the team's welfare and will create a friendly environment in the place of work. The leader will raise the self esteem of followers and should seek to make the job more interesting. This approach is most suitable for Henry and the MGI team because of the boring and stressful nature of the task of formulating a business plan. (Walters, 1978)


It is evident from the beginning that a leader with expertise in team processes can help the team in achieving its objectives and aims by analyzing how the team is functioning in terms of decision making and problem solving. In achieving the team goals communication is one of the most fundamental prerequisite, both team members should engage on open minded


Henry Tam and the MGI team

communication on pertinent issues on a given problem. The adoption of problem tree analysis in analsing issues is one of the most successful tools in team work; it helps a team to find solutions to problems by mapping out the composition of the causes and effects that surround a given issue. The other aspect that is important in team work is on achievement of group comes whereby; the leader should address the issue of conflict and group cohesion in an effort to of maximizing the performance of the team. Finally the use of a supportive leadership style is most appropriate in the case of Henry and the MGI team; this is due to the boring and stressful nature of the task of formulating a business plan.


Appelbaum, S.H., Shapiro, B. (1998), "The management of multicultural group conflict", Team Performance Management , Vol. 4 No.5, pp.211-34.

Bales, R., F. (1950): Interaction process analysis. Pg. 33. Addison-Wesley. Cambridge, MA.

Evans, M.G. (1970): The effect of supervisory behavior on the path-goal relationship. Pg.277-298. Organizational Behavior and Human Performance.

Walters, D., J. (1987): The art of supportive leadership; a practical handbook for people in positions of responsibility. Crystal clarity, publishers. Nevada City, CA.



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