Tuesday, April 12, 2011

I am so Mad at You! :(

Every team usually has some\ conflict that arises.  This conflict is not always handled in the most efficient way.  There usually is a sense of fear when conflicts arise because no one wants to upset the other members of the team. Conflict is defined as Conflict Definition. Internal conflict was extremely prevalent during my Junior Lacrosse season. Because the conflict was never made public our coach was terminated.  An example of a person realizing conflicts importance is found at Importance of Conflict.
      My Junior year of high school, a club team for girl's lacrosse was formed.  My best friends and I decided that we were going to join the team.  In our mind we felt cool that we were going to pioneer this sport for our school.  All seemed to be going well. We had what seemed like an awesome new coach that seemed really knowledgeable, a board of directors that was extremely supportive, and a group of girls that were extremely excited to begin learning the game of lacrosse.
      However, this started to derail quickly.  The coach was not able to perform to the best of her ability.  She always was skipping practice and games.  Even when she came to these events, she never was completely with it.  Her multiple boyfriends would show up to the games and practices. She even would come to the games intoxicated.  None of these instances were okay but because we were so scared to say anything nothing got done.  Honestly, if we had spoken up we would have had the problem solved immediately but we were too nervous and let the situation grow as the season went on. 
     Every game and practice we would be unsure of whether our coach would even be there or not. None of us would speak up though and that was our ultimate downfall.  Our fear of conflict continuously derailed the season.  We had the potential for a winning season but that was overshadowed by our inability to speak up. 
   I learned that to have things run smoothly in a team then any source of conflict can be turned into a positive.  If you avoid speaking the truth and bottling all your emotions up then you run the risk of exploding.  I will now speak up when I deem it appropriate.  As long as I speak my mind in an ethical, unbiased manner then I think any source of conflict can be discussed. 
    The coach of the team ended up getting fired before the end of the season.  She was no longer allowed to even come to any of our games.  The parents and the board of directors deemed her a risk to not only to us kids but also the club as a whole.  Some basic information can be found at General Conflict Information. This website discusses why conflict is not as big of a problem as people think as well as conflict resolution tactics.

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

"Eurotrash" Say Wahhhh?!?!?

When working as an intern for Eurotrash Boutique, there were certain values and ideas that were common amongst the employees. This is known as organizational culture.  An organizational culture is specifically Organizational Culture Definition.  Within this culture, certain degrees of power were divided within the employee base.  The owner of the store had the most influence and power and the manager on duty followed as second in command.  The rest of the employees were last in the power chain and were to just listen to the managers and owner.  This is where I as the intern was placed in the chain.
There are two types of cultures: high power cultures and low power cultures.  This business would be considered both a high and lower power culture.  A lot of times high power cultures are not always effective because people do not have a lot of creative input.  However, low power cultures may not be must better because members of the organizational culture have to take the initiative and do what they think is best with no direction.  Eurotrash Boutique was a nice blend of both high power culture and low power culture. The owner would ask for the manager as well as the employees’ feedback on design layout of the store, mannequin ideas, and ways in order to sell more inventory, therefore, making it a low power culture.  The high power culture would come into play when employees were told directly what to do.  The fact that the boutique is as successful as it is brings hope to a lot of people.  When the owner, opened the store it was during the middle of the 2008 recession when no one had disposable income. The U.S. economy still has not fully recovered compared to how it used to be as evident in CNN Economy Report  However, she was able to establish a strong clientele that kept spreading the word about her amazing clothes.  This is extremely important because her clothes tend to be a bit expensive, so having a solid base of people to back her products is necessary.
After having this internship, I have a better understanding of how to be a good leader within an organizational culture.  I was able to learn that you only need a certain amount of power within an organizational culture in order to be effective.  If everyone is trustworthy and responsible the organizational culture should be effective.  I realized that with a certain balance between high and low power culture, an organization can be successful. Information about the boutique can be found at Eurotrash Boutique.

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Spark of Creativity

     What is creativity exactly?  The Creative Definition is the official description of what creativity is. It is something that a lot of people think they lack. Ways to increase your creativity can be found at Increase in Creativity.

     Creativity is something I have prided myself on throughout my life.  I was always the girl coloring, drawing, or painting. My creativity was really put to the test when I was Editor in Chief of the school yearbook.  I was expected to be able to come up with all ideas for the design components of the yearbook.  At first, I was excited because I am someone who likes to have complete control over projects.  I am in other words a control freak.  However, as time went on throughout the year I realized that I was not able to come up with every idea for the 300 page book. 
     Now at first, I thought I was defeated because I was not capable of producing all those thoughts and images. I did not know what I was going to do because I was the creative director of the yearbook. The other two editors specifically dealt with the layout and writing.  Therefore, I decided that I needed to involve the other students in the class.  We would have brainstorming sessions at the beginning of the class on the chalkboard. This way everyone was able to participate in each step of the design process.  Another way that we allowed everyone to be involved is that individuals could design their own layout for each page.
     I realized though that if I had the whole class participate in the decision making process then more sparks of creativity would occur. An easy way in order to have everyone participate in the creative process is to have a group brainstorming activity like we did in yearbook.  Some ways for effective brainstorming can be found at Effective Brainstorming.

     Knowing that groups produce more creative ideas than individuals  is something that will help me in the future. Being Editor, taught me that not all my ideas are the best and I am not going to be able to come up with ideas every time.  Even though at first I thought the best way to handle the class was to be in complete control, over time I realized that was not true.  I now apply my lessons learned from yearbook to all activities I am involved in.  In the leadership group for my Elements of Team Leadership Class, we all discuss and input ideas so no one person dominates with the creative ideas.  Also this approach is used with my Sigma Kappa leadership position as well.  Everyone gets their own amount of input into each activity that we decide to do allowing a diversity of ideas to be put on the table. We make a concerted effort to allow everyone to participate with the innovation portion of our meetings that way the same ideas are not consistently used.

Tuesday, February 22, 2011


       Motivation is what drives individuals or groups to do the best they possibly could on a task.  Not every individual or group has the same level of motivation.  This can make being a leader or even a member of a team difficult because some are more motivated than others.
       When I was a senior in high school, I was the Editor in Chief of the school yearbook, The Statesman. This task required a lot of time and commitment from the three editors.  It seemed that out of the group of thirty five girls, the only three who were motivated to create the best yearbook were the three of us which was difficult.
       A typical problem that occurred within the team was "social loafing." More information about "social loafing" can be found at Social Loafing Information. When this occurred, the three editors ended up doing most of the work. This was an extreme burden on us because we had our own work that needed to be completed. A list of typical work that editors are required to do can be found at Editor in Chief Job Description. As the year went on, this got more frustrating because the work kept piling up.  By the end of the year we had more work than we were able to complete.  As a senior, we had senior privilege where we ended school about three weeks earlier than others.  While all of my friends were at the pool or going shopping, I was showing my motivation and dedication for the creation of the best yearbook by being in the classroom.  Even when I was at Beach Week, I was still working on the yearbook by being in constant communication with the editors still working in Richmond.
       As leaders of the team, it was difficult to get these girls to complete work to the best of their ability and on time.  In order to change, their lack of motivation we set up a positive rewards system.  Further reasons why reward and positive reinforcement are important can be found at Positive Effects of Reward. When I first got into yearbook, the grading scale was very slack and as long as you completed your work you got a good grade. However, we decided that the girls who worked the hardest should get the better grades.  This created a reward system within the class.  As the requirements got harder, the motivation increased in order to compensate.  Also on Fridays if everyone had done what they were supposed to do, the teacher would bring in Airheads for everyone.  A simple piece of candy does not seem much, but you would be surprised at how much more girls worked when they knew candy was on the line.
     I know exactly what I should do when a team is not a cohesive unit.  The idea of "social loafing" is extremely common and at times can be difficult to deal with.

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Group vs. Team Leadership

      Group vs. team leadership is something that has been debated for many years. Not everyone believes that there are a lot of differences between groups and teams, yet others believe it is a fierce topic to debate.

      Many people are probably thinking "so why does it matter if there is a distinct difference between groups and teams?" The overall purpose of providing differences between groups and teams is to effectively employ proper leadership skills in specific situations.  
      Groups typically have more members than a team.  Membership ranges from about two members to thousands of members. They can typically be classified into one of three separate categories: traditional work group, a traditional team, and a self-managing team. A traditional work group involves a hierarchy of leadership while a traditional team is when there is still leaders but they are not as dominant.  A self-managing team is when there are no leaders but everyone makes decisions themselves.
     An example of a group that I am involved in is the Sigma Kappa Sorority.  This would be considered a group because we are a collective group of individuals that come together for the common good of the sorority.  This group has roughly around one hundred and seventy members which is around the size of a group. As a group; we participate in philanthropic events, have sisterhood hangouts, and make decisions that better the sorority.
        Teams usually have more specific requirements for membership.  The typical amount of members in a team are from four to twenty. A unique aspect of teams is that each person brings different characteristics and qualities to the group.  Teams have certain goals that they are trying to accomplish. A direct quote on page 4 of Group Dynamics for Teams is "Teams usually are parts of larger organizations."
        A team that I am involved in with Sigma Kappa is being one of the leaders of the sorority.  The leaders of the sorority would be considered a team because it is a smaller group of people within the sorority.  Each person was elected for a specific personality trait and characteristic.  Since each person is a different position, they have different qualities like a team.  Within a team, you are supposed to have different individuals in order to get a lot of opinions and qualities. Also having a lot of people with knowledge about various subjects means that not everyone has to know all information.                                                                              

    As situations are becoming more complex and difficult, teams have had a dramatic rise.  Different members of a team have greater knowledge and excellence in different areas of life.  This can be helpful for teams because not every person has to be knowledgeable about everything. In my opinion groups at times can be more functional than teams but mainly teams should take priority.