As much I have learnt through the process of

As I reflect on past events, I realised how much I have learnt through the process of working with my group to accomplish our given task. With this experience, I can truly see how much potential I have to grow. The route has been a rollercoaster ride for me both mentally and emotionally as I discover ways to demonstrate effective leadership.            During the first seminar, we were assigned to make a video and asked to brainstorm ideas about our topic which was ‘Students’. Everyone was looking down at their handheld devices and they seemed to be waiting for someone to step up; I was no exception. The fear of saying something wrong and looking foolish was definitely a factor. Thankfully, a groupmate stepped up and cracked a joke to break the ice. I quickly linked that to our topic, hoping to get the conversation going in the right direction. Soon after, we accomplished the task and exchanged contact details to plan future meetings. Looking back, this reminds me of the dancing man video in week 3. I should have taken the initiative to start the conversation and this could have saved more time instead of letting my fears hold me back. The entire process could be seen as the first step in The Stages of team Development (Tuckmen & Jensen, 1977) which is ‘forming’. During this stage, most team members have a positive outlook regarding the project while others are more anxious about the outcome. This was evident as most of us were excitedly thinking up ideas for our video.            Using the Facebook group-chat we created, we arranged for a meeting the week after. This was when one of the first hurdles arose. Five of the six group members were supposed to be present for the meeting as one of the members was overseas. Although, there was an agreed meeting time, everyone was slightly late, and one person did not even show up. It was later discovered that this person overslept. She apologised and took responsibility for her actions which we appreciated. During the discussion, one of the members was very uninvolved, and kept using his phone instead of providing any input. I believe I, or any of the other members, should have stepped in and brought up the issue with him. However, we just shrugged it off.  It was clear that there was no intervention because everyone wanted to avoid any sort of conflict. Smither (1988) believed that ‘defensiveness’ is one of the group barriers to communication. ‘Defensiveness’ in this case is equivalent to conflict avoidance. We eventually did come up with an outlined plan, but we still needed the others to agree. This highlights a positive aspect of our group dynamic as we made decisions by unanimous consent (Schein, 1988). This is arguably the ideal approach where all parties agree upon the decision put forward. It can prevent low morale, and encourage team members to work harder.             Soon after, another meeting was set for the following week. Another issue occurred during this meeting. Due to lack of proper planning and contingency plans, some members were unable to locate the meeting point. There were also a lack of seating areas resulting in time wasted trying to find a place to conduct the discussion. None of us had brought up the possibility of this happening. Thus,  all of this resulted in the meeting being cut short. Our lack of hindsight when considering possible problems led to poor results that day. We should have made it so that we were guaranteed a place to sit. This could have been done by booking a place in the library in advance.            During this particular meeting, I noticed that one of the members was not very receptive of my opinions. I suspected it was because of my unfamiliar accent, despite being a native English speaker. The reason being that another member who is not a native speaker also received the same treatment from this member. She would avoid eye contact with us and would only respond to suggestions from the native speakers in the group. This is entirely speculation from my own observations however, and may not be the actual reason as to why she acted the way she did. I believed that it was important to not jump to conclusions and to be as impartial as possible in order to avoid any animosity between me and the members. I feel like I should have brought it up I felt like my ideas that were shut down were actually of substance and could have been useful for the team. It felt strange to be put in this position. Normally, in group projects, I would be seen as an opinion leader where my voice is heard. This time around though, decided to play a more supportive role as I wanted to avoid creating any more problems within the group.     During the next few meetings, one of the members was nowhere in sight. He gave excuses ranging from “partying” to “busy with other work”. Despite that, we still delegated tasks amongst ourselves. This mainly comprised of obtaining interviews for one of the segments in our video. With reference to Charles Handy’s types of organisational culture (1986), our group would be classified as having a ‘task culture’. Our team was very project-oriented and had no single power source. Power shifted from member to member as the status of the project changed. However, knowing all the personalities of our group members now, I think a ‘role culture’ would have been more appropriate. Since most of the members lack discipline a highly controlled environment would have been more suitable. Although, the main issue if we had adopted a ‘role culture’ would be that some members could become dissatisfied especially if they felt like they were being tied down. This could in turn lead to greater problems such as refusing to cooperate at all. Overall, each culture has its own pros and cons.      Initially, we had agreed on a day to meet after we each came up with a set of interview questions. Despite that however, one of the members informed us that he might not be able to make it as he decided that he wanted to go to the club the previous night. I was flabbergasted at his words. How could someone prioritise clubbing over group work? I now understand that it is probably because everyone has different motivations. For example, I believe that most of us in the group were extrinsically motivated to do well in the project as we all need to graduate from university. Perhaps he was more motivated to have fun instead. Victor Vroom’s (1964) Expectancy theory sheds some light on how people are motivated. It can be illustrated using a simple equation:Motivation for desired outcome = expectancy x instrumentality x valenceThis theory puts an emphasis on individuality. Everyone is different when it comes to what motivates them. However, I feel it was irresponsible of him to just neglect the project and shrug it off with just lip service. In addition, I tried attributing his behaviour to the cultural difference between us. According to Hofstede and Minkov, he might be leaning towards individualism cultural dimension whereas I was in a more collectivism. This theory still, however, does not justify his lack of involvement in the project. Therefore, we as a group decided to sit him down to reiterate and emphasize the importance of the project. The day of the meeting came about, and to our surprise, he did turn up (though slightly intoxicated). We had decided to film all the interviews so that our designated editor had time to work on the video. This showed our concern for a fellow teammate as we did not want to overwork or stress her out by giving her enough time to complete the final cut. Later that day, we also discussed more about the contents of the video. Once more, the non-native English speaking member and I were ignored, and our ideas were tossed aside. Nevertheless, we tried to contribute and provide as much assistance as we could.All of the unexpected hurdles had been taking a toll on me. Despite being able to endure it all, I was highly stressed and unsure of what to do about it. One of my friends actually noticed my unusual behaviour and bought me a book. It was ‘The Little Book of Mindfulness’ by Patrizia Collard. In it were several suggestions of methods to reduce worry and remain calm in times of stress. Coincidentally, we also learnt about mindfulness during one of the lectures. Some of the benefits of mindfulness include lowering anxiety and depression (Sears & Kraus, 2009), improves attention and memory (Fox et al, 2014), and better job performance (Dane & Brummel, 2013). Adopting mindfulness into my life not only assisted me in pushing on with the project, it also helped me in my personal life. As said in the book, “Minding the breath can be like taming a wild horse. The aspiration is to tame it with kindness without breaking its spirit.”.Once all the interviews and video clips were compiled, we had around a week before the deadline. The entire editing work was down to one group member as she was the only one with the experience and capability to do so. Maybe if we had completed our tasks faster, we could have lessened the burden. In addition, we would have gained a useful skill to use in the future. Unfortunately, this could not have been the case due to the many issues we had to overcome. We did try to help out with more menial tasks, but she profusely rejected. It seemed like she had her own idea as to the direction of the video. We could not do anything as she had insisted on doing her way and with no other editor, we had to give in.It was the weekend before the deadline, and no video insight. Despite that, the editor decided to go on a trip to London for the ‘Black Friday’ sales. The rest of us tried to do what we could to ease her responsibility while she was there. We met up and split a few more tasks amongst ourselves to accomplish during the weekend. We shot clips and extra footage just in case she did not have enough clips to fulfill the 5 minute criteria of the assignment. We also created a storyboard so that we had a visual representation of how the video would play out. Additionally, we searched for different pictures online to incorporate into the video to make the video stand out more. After doing our best, we could only send the content we had to the editor and wait patiently for her response. This incident was another prime example of what motivates humans. We can use David McClelland’s (1985) Three Needs theory to explain her actions. It can be inferred that she prioritised affiliation needs over achievement needs as she was going on the trip with her friends. On Sunday night, two days before the deadline, the editor finally replied through the group chat that she had returned. We anxiously enquired if the video was completed and she replied she was almost done and to give her till the next evening. As we had no clue how much of the video was completed, we were all worried about the outcome and if the video would be done on time for the deadline. Luckily for us, she was true to her word and it was completed by the evening of the next day. We all met up to view the video and check for areas that we could improve on. After fixing some minor issues on the spot, we were all very satisfied with the video overall. We went through the storyline once more and decided to upload it that night itself. In hindsight, there are many actions I probably should have taken to have become an effective leader. However, I will only elaborate on the two that I feel like is the most important. Firstly, I could have drawn the line to set an appropriate tone and direction for our group during subsequent meetings. Before that, I should have tried to get to know them better so that there would be a sense of trust between us. I believe that if we had found common ground, we would have been able to be more effective in our work, and others more receptive about taking the project seriously. The fact that we had no clear direction because all of us wanted to conform to social norms made it almost impossible to hinder members from having the wrong mindset when it came to the project. By setting initial boundaries, our goals would have been clearer and therefore we would have a better quality result produced in a more efficient manner.Secondly, regarding my assumption towards my groupmate, I would have cleared the air with her personally and in private, given a second chance. This may have made it easier for both of us to come together and genuinely focus on the project. It would have cleared any sort of misunderstandings and lift some communication barriers. As I reminisce, the tension between me and her might have made it slightly awkward for the rest of the group and this would have definitely affected our group’s synergy. I now understand that it is important to put aside any differences you may have as it can cause a lot of disputes and distrust between members. Cultural differences may be one of the hardest to overcome, but again it all starts with building trust. Overall, it had been a tiring and difficult experience for me. Despite many negative moments painted above, there were positive ones as well. One of the members was in a band and he invited the rest of us to watch him perform. We also hung out after submitting project to celebrate where there was no bad blood amongst the members. I realise throughout this project that people tend to often focus on the negative. Even though you can learn a lot by criticising past mistakes, doing it too often may lead to a pessimistic mindset. It is important that we appreciate good moments like these so that we do not fall into a pit of negativity. With that, we can be inspired to achieve our vision while understanding what went wrong. Going forward, I will still maintain an optimistic approach towards group projects. With the newfound knowledge and experience I have, I am definitely on the right track to becoming the effective leader who I aim to become.