LEADERSHIP & TEAMBUILDING
LEADERSHIP MOMENT REPORT
G2 – Professor Poornima Luthra
Ang Cheng Hui
Angele Chan Pei Ning
Chan Jun Wei
Clement Aw Jin Rong
Parvesh Singh Dhillon
Jeleen Angela Prijoles Rondon
Leonard Neo Ka Jun
Choice of Leader
Analysis of Leader
Team Evaluation Report
The following paper presents an insight into the traits and behavior of a selected leader whom we believe made a significant impact in his area of focus as well as to society at large in Singapore. His interactions with his followers, his selection of followers, and how these followers were parallel to his organisation’s goals and his expectations are a key part of the report. This paper seeks to explore the methodologies and leadership style employed, relevant to today’s context of effective leaders, based on a series of detailed interviews, as well as other data from trusted sources.
This paper also provides insights to leadership in community service, in which leaders not only have to cope with the conflicts or problems arising from the employees, but from the parents, the major stakeholder, as well. The leadership moment chosen is also in line with the context of transformational leadership and demonstrates how a leader can make change happen in society.
2. Research Methodology
2.1 Primary Research
2.1.1 Approach A: Face-to-Face Interview
Members of our group went down to a pediatric clinic in Mount Elizabeth Hospital to conduct an interview with our chosen leader, Dr Kenneth Lyen. This interview let us gain an insight into his leadership and conflict management style, his beliefs and traits; we inferred this from his daily routine described to us. Lastly, we interviewed Ms June Tham, the former executive director of Rainbow Centre; founded by Dr Lyen; this provided insights into how Dr Lyen was perceived by his followers.
2.1.2 Approach B: E-mail Interview
An e-mail interview was conducted with Mr Desmond Moey, someone who worked with Dr Lyen in his musical productions; to let us better understand Dr Lyen’s working and leadership style.
2.2 Secondary Research
Our group collected secondary data on Rainbow Centre’s background and operations, as well as information of our chosen leader via online newspaper articles, the organisation’s website, the personal webpage of our leader, and the resume that our chosen leader provided us with. The sources and sites used for data collection are trustable, and information extracted is cross-referenced with various sources, hence, our team has tried to verify the information provided in this report to the best of our abilities.
3. Organisation Background
Rainbow Centre Singapore is a non-profit organisation for children with special needs. Rainbow Centre is the first school to start an early intervention programmes that cater to children as young as 2 months old and children with multiple disabilities. In 1986, Dr. Lyen lead a task force to conduct a needs assessment on the number of children with multiple disabilities who were not receiving any services; to raise awareness on the dire need for special education in Singapore. By 1987, National Council of Social Service (NCSS) started Margaret Drive Special School (MDSS) for children with multiple handicaps. However, it was not until 1992, when Rainbow Centre managed to secure enough funding to be established and registered with the Registry of Societies, that early intervention programmes became available. In the same year, MDSS became independent and came under the umbrella of Rainbow Centre; with Dr. Lyen being one of the founding members and board member of governance.
4. Leader’s Background
The leader that our group has chosen is Dr. Kenneth Lyen. He is a consultant pediatrician at Mt. Elizabeth Medical Centre, a visiting consultant pediatric endocrinologist to the School Health Services at the Singapore General Hospital and a visiting tutor in developmental pediatrics at the Yong Loo Lin School of Medicine (National University of Singapore). Currently, he sits on the board of management for Rainbow Centre, a school he founded. He has also received the Public Service Medal for his outstanding contributions to the community, particularly in 1997. Dr. Lyen has published 22 original research papers on pediatric endocrinology, neurology as well as infectious diseases and has co-authored 14 books on his field of expertise.
Another field in which he excels in is in the arts and drama scene via his creative and witty musicals. He has written and staged over 25 musicals in Singapore. In 1999, he wrote a screenplay, which won first prize in the United TV International Screenwriting Competition.
In the field of medicine, Dr. Lyen graduated from the University of Oxford and went on to further his studies in pediatrics in London at the University College Hospital and the Hammersmith Hospital. He later sub-specialised in pediatric endocrinology at the Hospital for Sick Children in Great Ormond Street. Following which he was awarded a 3-year research fellowship in pediatric diabetes and metabolic diseases at the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia. At the end of all this, he returned to Singapore as a senior lecturer in the Department of Pediatrics, National University of Singapore.
Dr Lyen’s major contributions do not only come from his regular job; writing the initial concept paper for the new KK Hospital for Women and Children’s Hospital as well as serving on the planning committee. He has also been a pioneer in the community for children with special needs, founding the Early Intervention Programme in 1983, along with two schools for special education that are under the umbrella of the Rainbow Centre organization. In 2010, he was featured on Channel News Asia’s Asians of the Year.
5. Choice of Leader
Some key attributes of successful leaders are the ability to implement change, set and achieve goals and also build good working relationships with their team. Our leader selection process is based on the concept of transformational leadership, one that stands out from the others for its emphasis on change for the better by inspiring people to believe in one same cause. The leader has to have a passion for what he is striving to achieve in order to influence his followers with his positive energy. Thus, our group came up with the following criteria for selecting our leader of choice.
It’s one thing to be a leader; it’s another thing entirely to be an inspirational one. Plenty of people lead others, but few if any manage others. If one is to be called a great leader, he must be able to inspire others to achieve to the best of their abilities. Inspirational leaders are able to see the best in others and make them realise their full potential, pushing them to do their best. They inspire others’ through their actions and achievements, blazing a path for others to follow.
Having vision is an important trait of an effective leader as it shows that the leader is not only far-sighted, but is also one who dares to take risks and dream. Such leaders are willing to take up challenges, and they are capable of bringing together people who share the same vision. They work with a clear direction and purpose, focusing on long term goals and how they can bring about positive impacts to the community. Visionary leaders are social innovators who are concerned about the big picture. Their strong commitment to realising their vision makes them motivational and inspiring. A leader with vision is able to set clear goals and create a common purpose between the organization and its followers, this creates a motivated and driven organization that is focused on achieving common goals.
5.3 Driven and Passionate
Georg Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel once said “nothing great has been and nothing great can be accomplished without passion”. Having a burning passion in something will naturally give a person a strong drive for it. A leader with passion will enable followers to have trust in the leader as they will feel that the leader is not doing it out of requirements. The leader will be seen more genuinely by his followers and through this, followers will be able to work in a happier working environment and this will increase productivity.
Dr Lyen has displayed all three traits through his leadership moment: Rainbow Centre Singapore. He inspires others by walking his talk and serves as a role model for his followers. His numerous achievements also inspire others, many want to emulate him. Being a willing mentor, he always takes students under his wing, allowing them to learn from him and experience what being a doctor is like. He is someone who is very clear of what he wants to achieve, and he is not afraid to start from scratch. He noticed a lack of education initiatives for the individual needs of children with disabilities and took up the responsibility to make a change. With this vision, he founded Rainbow Centre, the premier school that provided early intervention programmes for children diagnosed with autism. Dr Lyen’s background displays his drive and passion for children and the arts. Apart from being a pediatrician, he went the extra mile to start this school for children with special needs. This shows how genuinely passionate he is to help children. Despite knowing it would be a difficult journey to start a special needs school, Dr Lyen still took up the challenge as he was determined to raise awareness for children with special needs in Singapore.
6. Leadership Moment
Our group was focused on selecting a leader that possessed a “Leadership Moment” which shaped his leadership methodology and allowed him to develop the leadership style that he currently possesses. This leadership moment would also have to display our chosen leader’s passion and vision as a pioneer for a project within his organization or community.
In 1986, Dr Lyen, who at that point of time; sat on the board of directors for the Community Chest was tasked to lead a task force to conduct a needs assessment on the number of children with multiple disabilities who were not receiving any services or formal education. The survey indicated that there were more than 150 of such children, clearly showing the need for a special needs school that can tailor education to cater to their needs.
In 1987, Dr Lyen founded the Margaret Drive Special School (MDSS), the first special needs school for disabled children in Singapore. In 1995, Dr Lyen and his team also started Balestier Special School, which eventually amalgamated under the same leadership with MDSS to form the Rainbow Centre; the umbrella organization which now looks after these 2 schools. The school started with just 5 students and today, there are hundreds of special needs students attending the Rainbow Centre. We found out that he relishes a challenge
During our interview with Dr Lyen, he conveyed his passion for problem-solving and determination as a pioneer. These were some of the challenges that he encountered when founding Rainbow Centre:
· Changing Perceptions
· Getting Funding
· Training & Developing
6.1 Changing Perceptions via the Early Intervention Programme
Changing the social stigma of sending disabled children to school was difficult. Dr Lyen shared with us the attitudes of parents at that time, “Why should I spend money on disabled? I mean they are a waste of time, that was the attitude.” With this, Rainbow Centre spent its first year with less than 10 children with parents that were willing to spend on special needs catered education. On top of that, this initiative was also very challenging without the support of the government in the beginning, both financially and administratively.
Dr Lyen introduced the Early Intervention Programme, to give children diagnosed with autism a head start in their development from a tender age of 2 months old, helping them to cope with their learning disabilities. In his personal capacity as a pediatrician, he worked to show society that these children with special needs are worth nurturing. This programme was essential, because for some disabilities such as cerebal palsy, the earlier the detection and coupled with proper treatment; the child would have a higher chance of developing stronger motor skills as he grew into adolescence.
6.2 Getting Funding from the Community Chest
Receiving funding from an accredited government organization was of absolute importance to fund the operations of the school. As many parents were already resistant towards the idea of special needs education, it was impossible to charge exorbitantly high school fees. On top of that, the Singapore Council of Social Services (SCSS), the lead organization for the funding of MDSS was still new and and did not have the means to fund the high operation costs.
“I said, yes you can still generate wealth but you look at it as a family that even the poorest member of the family, or the youngest or the most disabled in the family needs to be taken care of and that was the attitude, that was the philosophy that I adopted; that we look at Singapore as a family. That everyone should be looked after and so, slowly, slowly we-we changed mindset because once you change your mindset then people will see yeah ok, we should do something” – Dr Lyen on the need to spend on Special Needs Children.
Dr Lyen used his personal influence and managed to convince the then Chairman of Community Chest, Dr Ee Peng Liang, to buy-in. Dr Ee, gave his full support and managed to apportion a certain amount of funds from the Community Chest for operation costs of MDSS. In 1992, Dr Ee Peng Liang became the first Honorary Patron of Rainbow Centre.
Eventually, in 1989, two years after the first student entered the gates of MDSS, MDSS was registered with the Ministry of Education (MOE) under the Education Act.
6.3 Training & Developing People
During the initial phase of start-up, MDSS faced a shortage of teachers for its students. Teaching disabled children required a different methodology and attitude and there were no teachers available with the required skill set. As mentioned by Dr Lyen, it was impossible to expect an ‘O’ or ‘A’ levels teacher to teach a disabled child properly. Hence, MDSS required teachers to undergo special training at the National Institute of Education (NIE)
This proved to be another stumbling block as NIE had stringent requirements for accepting students. Many teachers did not have the necessary academic qualifications to make it into NIE and after several persuasion attempts, NIE eventually lowered the entry bar to a diploma. However, even then, many applicants had not achieved the required diploma qualification and the Rainbow Centre had to compromise by hiring teachers with only ‘O’ level qualification.
Dr Lyen’s passion for special needs children goes beyond his personal sphere and work as a pediatrician. As the pioneer of MDSS, Dr Lyen has given special needs children in Singapore an opportunity to be educated and assimilate better into the tough rigors of Singapore society. His commitment and enthusiasm has seen him through the founding of Rainbow Centre and has set him apart as a leader and a pioneer in the social services community.
7. Analysis of Leader
7.1 Personality and Traits
7.1.1 The Big Five Model of Personality
Openness: Tendency to be creative, informed, insightful and curious
Dr Lyen embraces new ideas and is willing to try and broaden his perspectives by developing on these ideas. He said that, “One of the key attributes of a leader is creativity, you will notice that many good leaders are creative.” Beyond his medical and charity work, Dr Lyen is also very involved in the arts.
His follower June Tham also commented that, “He listens to ideas, when he has ideas, he shares them”. This personality trait is particularly important especially in a non-profit organization with individuals of different personalities coming from different functional backgrounds. Dr Lyen’s openness to ideas has allowed him to be a pioneer in the medical field, in non-profit organizations and more so in the arts sector.
Conscientiousness: Tendency to be thorough, organised, controlled, dependable and decisive
Dr Lyen is an industrious worker and this is evident in his publishing of works to raise awareness for children with disabilities. All in all, Dr Lyen has written and coauthored 14 books that have sought to achieve the optimal level of awareness for children with disabilities. His commitment and organized way of approaching challenges has created success in all of his leadership roles that he has taken up.
Dr Lyen despite being an introvert has had to be decisive on a few occasions one of which was the training of “developmentalists”. Dr Lyen pioneered this role, as he felt the need for teachers to be holistically trained as an educator, counsellor and psychotherapist in a special school. His industrious work ethic, dependableness and stability during trying periods is what motivates his fellow workers and gives them the motivation to pull through the tough times alongside him.
“What really really inspired me is that none of them, none of them gave up. Everyone said lets do it. Lets just go and do it. Even without a single cent, we will do it.” - Dr Lyen
Agreeableness: Tendency to be conforming, accepting, trusting and nurturing
Dr Lyen is accepting of different opinions and understands the true value of combined input from his team. He is agreeable towards the views of his followers and makes it a point to trust his team so that they will develop the motivation to give their best and to take the initiative in undertaking and improving on existing projects and coming up with innovative ways to function within the organization.
His follower June Tham says that “Kenneth empowers. It is his nature, empowering and trusting. He has a trusting relationship with others and he is respectful and I think that is important, regardless of whether you are a leader or a follower”.
Extraversion: Tendency to be sociable, assertive and to have positive energy
Dr Lyen is both high and low in extraversion depending on the people, environment and situation. He doesn’t feel like there’s a need for him to be bossy and take charge over things. He leads his team through tasks entrusted to them. “He (Dr Lyen) will lead, because of his nature, empowering someone to do the work. It’s very important that that person who works with him, needs to have initiative.” Quoted from one of his followers, Ms June Tham. This shows that a lot of trust is involved to the point that there is no need for Dr Lyen to “breathe down your neck” Despite being an introvert, Dr Lyen is very sociable in accommodating the younger generation who aspire to be a doctor by providing numerous internships for them. Ms June Tham who has worked with Dr Lyen for many years also said that she has seen him bringing students during board meetings and in his personal office giving them the opportunity and exposure about the medical field. And being able to avail that kind of opportunity for them with his busy schedule impressed and inspired her a lot. This made Dr Lyen a very highly respected role model to not only his peers, colleagues but also the younger generation who aspire to be like him.
Though Dr Lyen claims to be an introvert, it is highly evident that he being a leader, stepped out of his comfort zone and showcased some extraversion qualities. Dr Lyen values relationships with the people he works with a lot. He believes that he has to be flexible with the way he treats an individual as everyone is uniquely different. Some are easier to talk to while others may need more time to set the ground for or to communicate in a more logical method. Ms June Tham also agrees that even though Dr Lyen is introverted as her first impression of him was that he is shy, she said that Dr Lyen is a very respectful man. His ability to cater his communication style to match each individual makes him very well-liked by many.[s11]
Furthermore, Dr Lyen has very high positive energy. He considers himself to be an optimist. “I (Dr Lyen) always think that things will get better, we just have to try harder and we will achieve”, quoted from Dr Lyen. His optimism is very influential as he also shared how thankful he was that his team was optimistic and self-driven as well which contributed a lot in getting the work done easier. This shows that his positive energy is crucial in his method of management.
Despite Dr Lyen’s natural introversion, he managed to possess extraversion which has made him an effective leader, as he is able to push forth his ideas and influence others with his positive energy. His drive has brought about many successes, such as the founding of Rainbow Centre and Musical Theatre Life.
Neuroticism: Tendency to be depressed, anxious, insecure, vulnerable and hostile
Dr Lyen has low neuroticism. He is a very humble man as he considers himself to be “a very ordinary person”. He adds on “I (Dr Lyen) don’t have any pretentious to be anything. I’m just someone who went through life with all the usual struggles and failures, but from time to time I was given a chance to do things.” Moreover, Ms June Tham claims that even though Dr Lyen had the power of authority being the president, “one thing about Kenneth (Dr Lyen) is that he never behaved like “I’m the president, you serve me” style”. This proves that Dr Lyen was never egoistic nor was he domineering towards his followers. He accepted all his failures in life and made the best out of it by solving the problems at hand without taking any unnecessary risks or falling into a slump. This shows how calm Dr Lyen is when faced with problems and his ability to keep moving forward despite facing so many challenges is a key attribute to his low level of neuroticism.
Dr Lyen’s low level of neuroticism allows him to maintain his calmness in face of any situation. This improves his ability to overcome challenges, as his emotions do not get in the way and a high level of professionalism is maintained.
7.1.2 Leadership Motive Profile Theory
An effective leader is one with a high need for power, which is socialised, a moderately high need for achievement and a low need for affiliation. In our following analysis, we aim to identify how our leader showcases these aspects while doing his work.
Need for Power
Dr Lyen has a high need for power as displayed by his traits of having healthy levels of self-confidence and high demands for his subordinates (he used the term ‘slavedriver’ to describe himself). Personalised power is something which he repeatedly denies having, but his ability to turn his ideas into reality may be interpreted as high self-confidence, indicating at least moderate personalised power. However, his need for such power stems from his concern for the people as well as the society at large. This may be viewed as a need for socialised power since he showed his abundance in empathy by helping the disabled. Dr Lyen’s sensitivity to others is also an expression of his need for socialised power. Such traits allow him to understand the people around him better, so as to address their needs through such power. The need for power is an essential trait that leaders need to possess to be able to command respect and to get the job done, hence, Dr Lyen’s high need for socialised power enable him to become more effective as a leader.
Need for Achievement
Dr Lyen has a moderate need for achievement as reflected by his natural optimism and drive. Such traits are key ingredients to his excellence in his field. He mentioned that he always thinks that things will get better, that people just have to try harder and they will achieve. This shows his need for achievement stemming from his natural desire to be better and give more by putting in more effort.
Need for Affiliation
Dr Lyen values personal relationship with his subordinates; he believes that a leader cannot get a task done without being relationship-oriented. Therefore he has a high need for affiliation due to his sensitivity and trusting nature. He is however able to maintain a close relationship with his team members without compromising on work performance and his professionalism. This may be because he believes in picking people that shares his values to work with him, enabling him to focus on giving ideas.
Hence, Dr Lyen is deemed as an effective leader despite him having a low need for affiliation, since he possess a high need for socialised power and moderate need for achievement.
7.1.3 Leader’s Attitude
The Pygmalion effect states that the leader’s expectation and attitude towards followers, and their treatment of them, explains and predicts follower’s behaviour and performance. Being an optimist, Kenneth has the ability to give his employees a lot of trust and autonomy. With his mentality of “always thinking that things will get better”, he is able to influence his team to be as optimistic as him. The trust and belief he places in his team, gave them confidence to perform, resulting in his followers achieving the goals set out for them.
Self-concept explains the positive or negative attitudes people have about themselves. Dr Lyen is a leader with positive self-concept from his trait of having internal locus of control. He is “an optimist” and he “always thinks that things will get better, we just have to try harder and we will achieve”. He believes in his own ability to perform in all situations and often challenges himself in seek of improvement. His self-confidence and high drive also demonstrate this positive self-concept that he has. His positive thinking gives rise to him always striving for excellence and not accepting mediocrity. This way, he ensures that his work is always the best that they could be, and he influences his followers to strive to do their best just like him.
Dr Lyen has a Theory Y attitude, as he believes that his subordinates like to work and need no close supervision. He mentioned that, “They are all very self-driven, I don’t have to do very much.” Furthermore, “They will often tell me you know oh ya you should do this, you should do that. I said fine, go ahead. I trust them.” This shows his understanding of his followers, their needs; which he complies to produce the best result.
7.2 Leadership Style
7.2.1 Conflict Management
Negotiating/Collaborating conflict style
The negotiating style attempts to resolve the conflict through assertive, give and take concessions. The leader makes compromises to come to a “win-win” decision. This is seen in Kenneth’s conflict management where he mentioned that in situations of conflict, “someone has to give, we can’t have two ways of doing. One, one has to be right, the other has to be wrong.” This give and take approach is the use of the negotiating conflict style. This style is moderate in assertiveness and cooperation, similar to Kenneth’s non-assertive personality.
The collaborating conflict style is similar to the negotiating conflict style. However in the case of the collaborating conflict style, the leader attempts to resolve the conflict with the best solution agreeable to all parties. The collaborator would find a best solution to a problem that is satisfactory to all parties. Kenneth realizes the importance of persuading others around him. He understands that in order to see eye to eye with his employees, he has to convince others of his point of view. Collaborating conflict style is hence used by Kenneth at times in team situations where the team works together to find a solution together. He would play the role of the collaborator to simultaneously solve a problem. June Tham also mentioned that he was a very accommodating leader that was willing to listen to your opinions.
Kenneth marries both styles together when solving conflicts. Coupled together with his gentle, soft-spoken personality, a mix of both conflict styles is most effective for him to solve conflicts. Although he is the leader, he takes a humble stance as mentioned by June Tham. Kenneth treats every subordinate as his equal. Therefore the collaborating and negotiating conflict style comes into context.
It is advantageous as both styles helps to maintain relationships. He personally believes that it is important to be “relationship oriented” and “to foster personal relationships with every individual” in your team. Maintaining relationships is vital to Kenneth as he makes use of trust to motivate his employees- “I trust my team”. He leads his team with the belief that they would be self-driven, like-minded and optimistic. Kenneth also realises the importance of a team effort in our world today. Therefore his team members are very important to him. This reveals the appropriate use of conflict management style by Kenneth in order to be an effective leader. “Learn to temper your emotions, slowly we have to persuade them, someone has to give, we can’t have two ways of doing. One, one has to be right, the other has to be wrong.” illustrates his calm attitude with regards to conflict.
7.2.2. Relationship with followers
Dr Lyen is seen as a relationship oriented leader. “You can’t get anything done if you are not relationship-oriented” was a sentiment he felt strongly for and it reflected in the way he treated his employees. He talks to his employees separately and makes sure that they are aligned with his company’s long term goals and encourages them to look at the bigger picture when looking at things. He energizes his team to to work towards the shared vision and goal of his organisation. This engagement that he gives to his followers displays the emphasis he places on building a cohesive team.
Emphasis on Communication
Communication plays a big part in how Kenneth creates relationships with his followers. He makes sure that he is able to communicate to his followers his own goals with the approach that everything is a team effort. He is also able to discern the different ways to connect with different people as he does not believe in one style of communication and mentions that “the way you talk to people has to differ”. This ability to communicate allows him to more easily create relationships with his followers.
High Quality LMX
Kenneth understands that to be able to manage conflicts, there is a need to have good interpersonal relations not only with his team, but also with every individual. This shows that Kenneth realises that a leader should aspire to build relationships with all his followers instead of those that are in his “in-group”. His emphasis on communication and relationship mentioned above is the foundation for his ability to create strong dyadic relationships with all of his team members.
Respect and Trust
June Tham, also mentioned that in the initial phase, her relationship with Kenneth was very professional, in the sense that she felt as if he had no hidden motives or agenda. She also remarked that his trust in his followers empowers them. The fact that he does not “breathe down” their necks and gave them a lot of freedom when they were doing their work made June note that he respected his followers and their decisions.
Kenneth is also a transformational leader. He challenges the status quo and believes in change for the better. When faced with the arduous task of changing society’s mindset towards the autistic and the disabled, Kenneth remained optimistic. He had a strong vision for the future and was confident in his ideas. He had the motivation and conviction to pull through in what he believed in. As seen in his work in the theatre, Kenneth wanted to start a movement in Singapore. Encouraging local writers, composers and performers to produce original works since most of the shows in Singapore were imported. Quoting Kenneth “A leader is a do-er … and a thinker”. This reveals his mindset as a transformational leader. He is a true example of what a transformational leader should be, therefore he is our choice of leader.
As a modest man, he is the ideal choice of leader to carry out charity work. To do charity work, one needs to first understand the plight of those they are helping, he needs to put himself in their shoes. Kenneth is humble enough to be a servant leader. Servant leaders are hard to find. Servant leaders put the needs of others first and they help to develop them to their highest potential. Through serving others they serve society. A self-motivated servant leader such as Kenneth inspired us to choose him as our choice of leader.
He treats his co-workers and subordinates with respect and trusts them to fulfill their tasks. His follower, June Tham once worked under him and enjoyed working together with him as a team. He is a participative team leader that empowers other to make decisions and take initiative. His trusting relationship together with this team makes him a popular and effective leader.
The attitude towards his followers reflects Dr Lyen’s ability to see the value in every single member of his team; that communication, trust and respect is key in building a close-knit team. His positivity and optimism carries through with his followers making him a well-respected leader by his followers.
Dr. Lyen’s relationship-oriented and empowering style has proven to be effective in his work environment. He has been a pioneer in implementing change and his new ideas have transformed the way disabled children are educated. His success in these new initiatives stems from his blend of transformational, authentic and servant style of leadership. He empowers, motivates, trusts, helps and encourages his followers which propels the team to greater heights. In addition, he allows his followers to express themselves with minimal supervision which enhances the process of reaching organizational objectives as they are allowed to exercise their new ideas flexibly.
However, his styles have certain limitations when it comes to managing certain groups of people. For example, his inclination towards autonomy may not fit in well with followers who do not take ownership of their own work and require constant supervision. Moreover, should an austere conflict arise among his teams, a negotiating or collaborating style of conflict management may not be a good option to solving the conflict. His humble, calm and soft spoken demeanour may be a possible drawback in such a situation as it requires a higher level of assertiveness and aggression. A poorly managed conflict by a team leader may lead to a decreased team morale and affect the overall performance of the organization.
Overall, Dr. Lyen is an effective leader from the numerous traits he has displayed over the course of his career. He is very accommodating towards new ideas by being open and agreeable; he is conscientious as portrayed by his industry in establishing his schools despite the difficulty involved. He has also displayed high extraversion and low neuroticism. His high need for socialised power, moderate need for achievement and low need for affiliation has contributed to his success as a leader as well. Throughout Dr. Lyen’s journey in establishing the Rainbow Centre, teamwork has been extremely necessary in order to achieve organizational objectives. This entails having a good conflict management style, as conflicts often arises within a team-oriented setting; be it whether the conflict is dysfunctional or functional. By marrying both negotiating and collaborating styles of conflict management, he has ensured minimal conflicts within his team; resulting in enhanced productivity and achievement, which coupled with his humble personality has led to his success as a leader. In conclusion, Dr. Lyen has influenced and inspired many aspiring young leaders, us included. His vision, empathy and humble attitude have allowed us to develop a deeper understanding of leadership.
9. Team evaluation report
I. Team Structure
When first embarking on our project, our group decided to do away with fixed roles and chose to work as a self-managed team when allocating work. Since every member did not have a fixed role, we were not confined to a structure that was impractical with our varying schedules and workloads. Every team member was thus self-motivated and had a stake in the project, there was thus no need for a leader to push to get work done. Our team also had an understanding that if everyone put in an equal share of work, there will not be an unequal workload for a single individual. This meant that delegation of work was not a concern for us and work would always be done by the deadline. Also, our group understands that sometimes, other commitments might take precedence, and if a team member was unable to be present for a particular meeting, they would do a little more in the next round. Although we had a large group of 8, there were little conflicts in the group, since every team member had a unified goa of achieving excellence in Leadership and Team Building. Some of us also had the advantage of knowing each other outside of work, making initial interactions less awkward and forging a better understanding between members. This helped in conflict management as the more we knew about our team members, the more we could work around potential problems and dissatisfactions.
II. Process of working together
a. Team meetings
(1) Identifying Objectives
When we planned meetings, the most important thing was to determine the main agenda at hand, if this was not done, the meeting would be unproductive with no clear aim in mind. The objective of the meeting depends on what the meeting was for. The main reasons for us meeting was usually to discuss the direction that we are taking in the project. This means that we decide what we are going to do, how it is supposed to be done and when will it be done by.
(2) Covering agenda items
Our team generally decided on what to do before we meet or right at the start of the meeting. How we want it done takes the longest time since everyone has their different styles and way of doing things. For example, the different manner in which reports and PowerPoint slides are done, or even different interpretations of our chosen leader’s leadership style. Thus, all of these had to be agreed on before the team could start doing work as we feel that a sense of ownership of the final product is important, as such each members’ opinion is highly valued.
(3) How we delegated the work
We had a democratic style of allocating the work that was needed to be done. First, we listed down everything that had to be done and the number of people that each part needed. From there, anyone could choose whichever part they felt comfortable or more proficient with to do. We did not want to force any of our team members into doing any part of the project they felt uncomfortable with. Their time could be spent on doing another part better, while someone more comfortable or proficient in his part could take over and the project would be done better in totality. Thus, the ability to choose our own parts to do was vital to the delegation of work.
(4) Summarizing and reviewing work done
Before ending off the meeting, we would make a quick summary of what we have discussed during the meeting on our google docs file, a minutes of sort. This is to ensure that everyone knows what has to be done and can always refer back to this document in case they forgot or missed out anything that had to be done. Taking minutes also benefitted us in terms of clearly laying out the objectives of the meeting and whether the meeting was efficient and effective.
At the very beginning, when our group was just formed, communication was lacking since we did not know each other well. Due to our conflicting schedules, we had to resort to delegating work over WhatsApp, text messages, telegram and at certain junctures, 1 or 2 group members were even unware of the progress and direction of our project. Even so, we managed to work around our conflicting schedules and find common timings for meetings, albeit at the expense of sleep or time with family and friends. During meetings or discussions, there were many people speaking at once. Over time however, we began to develop, an unspoken rule of listening when one person speaks, and this sped up our decision making process. Even though many of us started as wanting to be heard, we were adept at the message receiving process. Hence, once we got around to listening more, the messages were transmitted very quickly and efficiently, with one member of the group paraphrasing such that it is understood by everyone.
c. Coaching feedback
We always tried to adopt coaching as our primary method of feedback, because, as Prof mentioned, criticism is not the right way to do it. We did not want any of our members to feel embarrassed about their mistakes and become de-motivated as keeping the morale high is a key part in working as a team. However, at the start, we did not give very specific feedback as we were afraid that being too straightforward might end up sounding like criticism. In time, we learnt that all our members were okay with other members being straightforward with the feedback. We used inspirational appeals as our main method of influence to motivate members who were feeling unsatisfied with their performance in the team. To students in SMU, grades are usually the main motivating factor as the environment is so competitive and we used that as an incentive ,or perhaps more like a goal to reach for, in our mutual motivations.
d. Making decisions
Decision making in the beginning was tough since there were 8 members in our team and everyone had different views on how the work should be approached. We would each let the rest know about our opinions and the rest would either critique or agree with the view. After a few discussed we naturally became used to the way we worked and would take only a short while to decide and delegate the workload, giving us more time to focus on the actual work.
III. Conflict Management
As mentioned earlier, our group consists of people with different personalities and working attitudes. Therefore, there is a natural tendency for conflicts to arise due to a difference in opinions, working styles and ideas. However, we feel that a majority of our group’s conflicts arose mostly due to a difference in class and CCA schedules. All of us had our own CCA commitments and our class schedules were very different. For example, before our case facilitation in week 7, we had only managed to organize a full strength meeting once. Although none of the conflicts were heated, there was a sense of discontentment among our group members as the progress of our work suffered due to the lack of group meetings. In addition, some of our group members had different preferred working styles. Some preferred to deal with assignments closer to the deadlines while some preferred to tackle these projects early to prevent an accumulation of workload later. However, with that being said, we feel that our group handled such conflicts very well. The first step was to identify the reason for these conflicts. We recognized that our work quality was suffering not because of a lack of commitment from our group members but to put it more aptly, it was due to a lack of time. Technically, there was no way to work around this lack of time as some CCAs are very particular about attendance. We could not expect our group members to keep missing out on their trainings and risk getting kicked out of their CCA but at the same time, we did not want to compromise on our work quality. Thankfully, most of our group members chose to tackle these issues in a very collaborative manner. We recognized that some of our group members were very passionate about their CCAs and as such, we decided to assign less work to a group member who had CCA commitments on that particular day. Moreover, we managed to reach a compromise by having group meetings after class when everyone was free, even though some had to rush off for other classes. We also implemented skype meetings in the evening to check on the progress of our work on projects. Conflicts in viewpoints were handled well over time as we got to understand each other’s working styles better and thus there was never any overly-heated or extreme conflicts. As such, this collaborative conflict management style adopted by our group was vital in ensuring that the needs of each group member was met and was a key reason in improving our overall group dynamics. Leadership & Teambuiding has been a module which has made us more self-aware of the way we function as a team. This awareness will improve our team dynamics and aid us in future projects. Now that we know what constitutes an effective group, we can all work towards being a better teamplayer.