TeamSTEPPS® Fundamentals Course: Module 3
Leadership and Team Effectiveness
Leadership is defined by McGrath (p.365) as a responsibility "to do, or get done, whatever is not
adequately handled for the group needs".3 Others have defined it as the means by which designated
leaders or leaders in action impact team effectiveness before, during, and after a task.1 This is done by
ensuring that team members are seeking information, planning team duties, coordinating team actions,
resolving conflict amongst themselves, and providing coaching and feedback. More specifically, it is the
duty of those entrusted with leadership responsibilities to ensure team actions like monitoring and
information sharing take place. Leaders do this by performing two key behaviors: managing resources
and facilitating team actions.4
How important is leadership in promoting team effectiveness? Leadership has been identified by team
researchers as an important piece in the teamwork skills puzzle.1 Salas and colleagues (p. 8-9) point out
that leaders "impact team effectiveness not by handing down solutions to teams, but rather by facilitating
team problem-solving through cognitive processes (e.g., shared mental models), coordination processes
(e.g., environmental monitoring; resource management), and the team's collective motivation and
behaviors (e.g., performance expectations).1,4,5
Leadership and Teams
Organizational researchers have long focused on the value of teams as a unit of task work with
leadership serving as a means for improving employee performance and attitudes.6 Some researchers
have taken on the added burden of assessing the role of leaders and leadership strategies in order to
best facilitate not only individual, but also team outcomes.4 Fleishman and colleagues provided a
taxonomy of task-based leader skills that can be used to demonstrate the role of leaders when facilitating
team actions.7 Researchers identified skills such as planning, organizing, problem-solving, facilitating and
supporting the team action process. These skills were identified as the key behaviors that leaders need to
take to ensure teams perform effectively and attain their desired outcomes.
Later, Morgeson expanded upon Fleishman's taxonomy by grouping the key leadership skills into one of
three categories: monitoring, diagnosis, and intervention.8 In this model, monitoring refers to the
continual monitoring of the team and environmental cues. Diagnosis refers to using information to make
decisions and draw up action plans. Intervention can include team establishment, motivation, and team
member development. DeChurch and Marks combined taxonomies to develop a theory of the role
leadership in action teams.9 Two key leader behaviors were identified as having a vital impact on
simulated fighter pilot performance: information management (e.g., resource management) and
communication (e.g., facilitation). These researchers pointed out that leaders have the greatest impact on
team performance if they manage information and human resources by delegating tasks and supplying
information to their team members. They also illustrated the point that leaders must support their teams
by communicating with them and holding information sessions to reinforce the coordinated actions to be
taken. Teams with leaders that performed these behaviors reported significantly greater sharedness in
mental models, committed fewer errors in flight, and performed better than teams with leaders who did
not perform these behaviors. This is just one example of several leadership skills impacting team
Leaders have an impact on team effectiveness through ensuring team actions are understood by all,
changes in information are shared by team members, and that teams and team members have the
resources necessary to perform the task required. Leaders must ensure that information sharing, monitoring, helping, and other team actions are taking place by reinforcing shared mental models and
modeling team actions for team members. Leaders must provide team members with the appropriate
human and material resources (e.g., team members with proper skills) to perform. Facilitating team
actions aids in the development of shared mental models, while managing resources ensures that teams
can be adaptable when necessary.
In summary the evidence suggests that effective team leaders:
- Are responsible for ensuring that team members are sharing information, monitoring situational cues, resolving conflicts, and helping each other when needed.
- Manage resources to ensure teams performance.
- Facilitate team actions by communicating through informal information exchange sessions.
- Develop norms for information sharing.
- Ensure team members are aware of situational changes to plans.
|Evidence-based summary prepared by American Institutes of Research (AIR) for Department of Defense Patient Safety Program in collaboration with Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality, Contract 282-98-0029.
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1.Sims, D. E., E. Salas, and S. C. Burke. Is There a 'Big Five' in Teamwork? Chicago, IL. 19th annual meeting of the Society for Industrial and Organizational Psychology. 4. (2004).
2. Sundstrom, E. Supporting Work Team Effectiveness : Best Management Practices for Fostering High Performance. San Francisco, CA, Jossey-Bass, Inc. (1-1-1999).
3. McGrath, J. E.: "The Influence of Quasi-Therapeutic Relations on Adjustment and Effectiveness in Rifle Teams". Journal of Abnormal and Social Psychology 65, 365-375. (1962).
4. Zaccaro, S. J., A. L. Rittman, and M. A. Marks. "Team Leadership". Leadership Quarterly, 12: 451, (2001).
5. Salas, E., C. S. Burke, and K. C. Stagl. "Developing Teams and Team Leaders: Strategies and Principles". Leader Development for Transforming Organizations. Ed. R. G. Demaree, S. J.
Zaccaro, and S. M. Halpin: Mahwah, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates, Inc, (2004).
6. Kozlowski, S. W., and B. S. Bell. "Work Groups and Teams in Organizations." In Comprehensive Handbook of Psychology. Ed. Borman, W. C., Ilgen, D. R., and Klimoski, R.: Vol. 12 Industrial and Organizational Psychology. New York, Wiley.
7. Fleishman, E. A., M. D. Mumford, S .J. Zaccaro, K. Y. Levin, A. L Korotkin, and M. B. Hein. "Taxonomic Efforts in the Description of Leader Behavior: A Synthesis and Functional Interpretation." Leadership Quarterly, 2: 245, (1991).
8. Morgeson, F. P.: Leading as Event Management: Toward a New Conception of Team Leadership. Poster session presented at meeting of the Society of Industrial and Organizational Psychology, St. Louis, MO. (1997).
9. DeChurch, L. A. and M. A. Marks. "Teams Leading Teams: Examining the Role of Leadership in Multi-Team Systems." Journal of Applied Psychology 89. (2003).
10. Harris, T. C. and J. L. Barnes-Farrell. "Components of Teamwork: Impact on Evaluations of Contributions to Work Team Effectiveness." Journal of Applied Social Psychology 27, 1694-1715. (1997).
11. Tjosvold, D. Flight Crew Collaboration to Manage Safety Risks. Group and Organization Studies 15, 177-191. (1990).
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TeamSTEPPS Fundamentals Course: Module 3. Evidence-Base:
Leadership. Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality, Rockville,