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Name: Zhengrong Ni

Date: 15/9/20

Describe what it means to be a modern team leader. Describe the different types
of teams and critically analyze the challenges modern managers face in contemporary
business organizations.


The word leadership can refer to the ability to get people to follow voluntarily.
Leaders influence and direct the performance of group members towards the
achievement of organizational goals. This paper aims at exploring the meanings of
being a modern leader by understanding different leadership styles and leadership
traits to find out how an effective leader influence people to direct their efforts
towards the achievement of common goals. This paper also studies different types of
teams and the challenges modern team leaders are likely to meet in contemporary
business organizations. By critically analysing teams, leaderships, and challenges
could we understand the leadership in management better.

Leadership Styles

When running a business, arguments have raised up very often about what are
different leadership styles and which one work best for different business. The
leadership style of a team leader assists him in getting the best out the people who
follow him. By understanding the different styles of leaders, the owner of the business
might find out the best leader for the business as well as for the team. Basically there
are four styles of leadership discussed in this paper: participative, authoritative,
directive, and laissez faire.


Participative leaders give more attention to needs and views of their employees.
They consult employees over issues and listen to their feedback or opinions, however
the final decision will still be made by the leader considering the best interests of the
employees. When leaders are making decisions, typically they would explain the
reasons of taking certain actions or making decisions in management to make sure the
decisions are for the best interests of both employees and business. The advantage of
participative is getting feedback from employees while the communication could be


Under authoritative leadership, the leader makes all the decisions and passes the
directives to team members who are expected to carry these out under vey close
supervision. Any questioning or opinions to leaders directives are discouraged, thus
there is little or no opportunity for team members to be innovative or creative.
Besides, leaders might use means such as punishment, reward, task orientation and
arbitrary rules to closely control employees behaviour. (Lopez 2014) Therefore,
authoritative leadership usually is based on the assumption that the leader knows

everyone and knows whats the best for organizations, meanwhile the employees
cannot be trusted to do what is right for the organization.


Directive leadership is also known as bureaucratic style leadership, which is

strictly by rules and regulations in the book. Leaders manage the team according to
restrictions more than his own judgement, playing a role more like a police officer
than a manager. Directive leadership could be appropriate when employees are
permitted with no discretion however it could kill innovation or creativity of
employees to some extent.

Laissez Faire

In laissez faire style leadership, leaders allow the people to make their own
decisions. However, leaders are still responsible for the decisions that are made, which
means they cannot blame their team members if anything goes wrong. Laissez Faire
style of leadership allows great freedom and responsibility. (Appelbaum 2015) Not
only leaders should trust their team members that they can work initiatively and make
the right decision for them, but also team members would work the best for leaders
and the business. Therefore, laissez faire leadership is not suitable to unexperienced
leaders or indolent team members.

Leadership Traits
It is believed that few people are born with the natural talent for leadership,
therefore there are certain taints leaders should actually possess. It is important one
understand the meaning of each leadership trait and how to develop it to become a
good leader. (Pardesi 2013) The following traits are believed to be the qualities of
becoming a successful modern team leader:


As a good leader, one should be just, able to consider all different sides of the
situation and make the right judgement for giving rewards or punishments. It is
essential to try to treat everyone in the team equally and professionally.


A team leader should have the ability to think about things clearly, calmly and
make decision according to the best judgement. Such judgement is also essential in
assigning tasks to each team member by understanding their skills and strengths.


As a decision maker of a team, the team leader should be able to consider all the
facts of the situation and weight them against each other to make good decisions.
Decisiveness means the ability to reach decisions quickly in a clear, professional, calm


As a modern team leader, it is his duty to express the best status of himself to
employees and clients everyday in work. An enthusiastic team leader always keeps
optimistic, cheerful and positive

attitude to all the challenges. Even when meeting with stress and problems, hes
able to cut off the negative emotions and past the best emotion with the team

Both physical courage and moral courage are essential to become a good team
leader. Externally, an effective team leader always works effectively and keeps
functional even when meeting with

physical danger present. Internally, the moral courage enhances inner strength to
stand up for what is right and to accept blame when something goes wrong. (Oostrom
2012) Such courage will become an important power to make you guide the whole
team to work together.

Types of Team

Teams are formed in different ways, suited to different purposes and should be
treated differently by using different leadership styles. To become a good leader, one
should understand the taxonomy of teamwork and different types of teams. In this
paper, four types of teams are analysed, which are project team, virtual team, semi-
autonomous team and work team. There are also three different types of work team:
functional work team, cross-functional work team and self-directed work team.

Project team

Project teams are created to complete specific, one-time projects within a limited
time, which are often used to develop new products, improve existing products or
build new offices. The advantage of project team is it can reduce or even eliminate
communication barriers and speed up working process, which also improve the
flexibility of workers. The drawback of project team is that it requires efficient
communication among team workers and fast adoption of new working environment.

Virtual team

Virtual team is a group of co-workers working together from different locations

and time-zones, communicating with each other through various communication
technology such as internet, phones, and chatting apps. There are mainly three main
aspects to form a virtual team, same common goals held by all team members, people
working for the team from distance, and links between team and team members.
Therefore, it is essential for team leaders to get frequent feedback from employees and
periodically bring team together. Strong communication and self-staters are also
important to achieve the common goals.

Semi-autonomous team
A semi-autonomous team is a group of individuals granted independence over the
work including making decisions of the work functions, assign individual tasks by
themselves. While the purpose of each team member should be for the common goals
of organizations. In other words, each team member comes with complete freedom in
activities, also has to take responsibility of decisions made by themselves since there
is no monitoring or evaluation from a team leader provided. (Kale 2014) The benefit
of semi-autonomous team is that team members typically come up with innovative
and strong ideas when working alone, which also becomes a motivation to their work.
While the

drawback is that to some of the employees, they may take advantage of the
opportunity to work in a moderate pace. Besides, team members might come into a
fight in making final decisions.

Work team

Work team is formed by combining more than two individuals from different
fields with different skills to work together for same goals. As a routine way of
managing organizations, many companies find it efficient as well as beneficial to have
multiple people working in collaboration to deliver best productions. Among work
teams, basically there are three common types: functional work team, cross-functional
work team and self-directed work team.

1. Functional work team

Functional work team is composed with organizational members from several

vertical departments and areas, performing specific functions to help company to
build external relationships as well as internal operations. Each team member of
functional work team would have different

responsibilities in their functional areas, such as people from financial,

accounting, marketing and sales departments working together to form a functional
work team.

2. Cross-functional work team

Cross-functional work team is formed with experts and specialists from different
fields to cooperate together to achieve the same organizational goal. Since most of the
team members are experts of the functions, they are expected to make decisions
according to their own judgement. They dont necessarily need to report or consult
management before they make decisions. Thus, cross-

functional teams are believed to improve interdependent activities by specialized

subunits. (Webber 2004)

3. Self-directed work team

Self-directed work team is a group of employees with different skills work

without the usual

managerial supervision towards common organizational goals. Since there is no

team leader in self-directed work team, team members usually need to decide the
mission to work for, the approach they work together, as well as decision to make.
Firstly, team members need to find the mission together such as increasing sales and
productivity, training new employees, and solving existing problems. Secondly, team
members need to figure out how they want to work together by setting the rules and
deadlines of the mission. And then, using a democratic way to make important
decisions together, such as voting or sharing opinions.

Challenges faced by leaders

With the increasing complex of business environment these days, leaders are
faced with many challenges at a cognitive, emotional and behavioural levels. One of
the major challenges modern leaders are faced with these days is keeping up with the
pace of technological changes.

Organizations are getting more and more technologically oriented and speed of
technological changes are getting ever faster. Thus, leaders should prepare the
workforce to accept the major changes in technological development. Another
challenge facing modern leaders is having the

courage to see the reality and have solutions with it. Sometimes it is very difficult
to ask a leader to become a good listener since hes authoritative and busy; sometimes
it is also hard to ask leaders to nurturing potential leaders because they are afraid to be
replaced by others. However, leaders should try to balance their emotion with the
benefits of organizations, making the best choice for business but not for himself.
While to this challenge, not many leaders can make the right choice. Additionally, the
acceleration of globalization has become another dominant challenge to leaders. To
manage both global and local teams, leaders are expected to be flexible,
internationally mobile and culturally sensitive. Therefore, to find strategies and
solutions to meet with globalization

problems, leaders should have strong conceptual and strategic thinking

capabilities. Also leaders are expected to cope with uncertainties might resulted from
globalizations. (De Paoli 2015)


In conclusion, to understand the meaning of being a modern leader, there are

basically four types of leadership, participative, authoritative, directive, and laissez
faire leadership. Some of the personal traits are essential for a person to become an
effective modern leader, which are justice, judgement, decisiveness, enthusiasm and
courage. To the aspects of leadership, understand different types of teams is also
important. This paper has analysed four types of teams: project team, virtual team,
semi-autonomous team and work team, where there are three different types of work
team: functional work team, cross-functional work team and self-directed work team.
This paper also suggests three domain challenges leaders might face with in the
coming decades, which are technological changes in organizations, communications
with team members and acceleration of globalization.


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