Follower Maturity

Followers working in teams or groups relate to each other through increasing levels of maturity. Figure 5-4 depicts two models of group behavior: Cog’s Ladder (Maley and Varner, 1994) and the Tuckman Model (Jensen and Tuckman, 1977).

Cog’s Ladder

The Cog’s Ladder Model has five steps: the Polite Stage, the Why are we here? Stage, the “Bid for Power” Stage, the Constructive Stage, and the Esprit Stage.

Cog's Ladder and the Tuckman Model

Figure 5-4 Cog's Ladder and the Tuckman Model.

  • 1. In the first step, the Polite Stage, group members get acquainted, share values, participate in social interaction, and establish the group structure.
  • 2. At the Why are we here? Stage, group members define and understand the objectives and goals of the group. To reach this stage, members risk the possibility of conflict and must deal with threatening topics.
  • 3. The next step is the “Bid for Power” Stage, in which group members attempt to influence one another’s ideas, values, and opinions. In this stage, members risk personal attacks from other members. Some members may be required to submit to a purpose they disagree with.
  • 4. In the fourth step, the Constructive Stage, the team begins to take action. They become open-minded, engage in active listening, and respect one another’s rights to different values and opinions. Some members may be required to cease defending their own views and accept the possibility that they may be wrong.
  • 5. The last step is the Esprit Stage. Here, the group unifies and experiences mutual acceptance, high cohesiveness, and high spirits. Members have self-trust and trust other members.

The Bruce Tuckman Model

The Bruce Tuckman small group development model is based on his analysis of 55 articles on the stages of small group development. This model describes how group interactions change over time (Jensen and Tuckman, 1977). I have overlaid Cog’s Ladder with the first four stages of the Tuckman Model in Figure 5-4.

  • 1. In the Forming Stage, team members meet and are oriented to project goals. They learn the project and individual roles (Jensen and Tuckman, 1977). Team members need the opportunity to get acquainted. They need essential information about the content and context of the work expected, and they discover their individual values, assumptions, beliefs, and expectations. During this stage, the leader defines and clarifies the team vision and the goals to achieve the desired outcomes (Biech, 2008).
  • 2. In the Storming Stage, the team seeks to understand the requirements, define an approach, and find consensus through collaboration. They respond emotionally to the required tasks at hand, potentially experiencing conflict (Jensen and Tuckman, 1977). In this stage, the team leader needs to assertively set parameters for the team. Team members need to listen attentively to all viewpoints and employ conflict management techniques such as mediation, negotiation, and arbitration if needed. During this stage, team members and team leaders explore alternative ways to view the problems they are facing (Biech, 2008).
  • 3. Next, the team enters the Norming Stage. Here, the team members adjust to one another and experience an open exchange of relevant interpretations of task requirements (Jensen and Tuckman, 1977). Here, the team leader is required to provide opportunities for all team members to be involved and to learn from and assist one another. The project leader needs to model and encourage supportive behavior, keeping communication lines open. The team members need positive and corrective task- related feedback during this stage. Also during this stage, the successful team leader adds humor and fun to the team working environment (Biech, 2008).
  • 4. The last stage, as depicted in Figure 5-4, is the Performing Stage, in which the team develops solutions, producing results and solving problems (Jensen and Tuckman, 1977). During this productive stage, team members need to be rewarded and recognized for their contributions to the project and the team’s well-being. Team members participate in group problem solving, in setting future goals, and in shared decisionmaking opportunities. Team leaders delegate tasks to team members in this stage that foster their professional development (Biech, 2008).
  • 5. The Adjourning Stage is not depicted in Figure 5-4. This stage was added to the model after the first four. Here, the group disbands after the project has ended (Jensen and Tuckman, 1977). During the separation process, the team leader provides evaluations and performance feedback. Team relationships and project success are celebrated, with an emphasis on fun and recognition (Biech, 2008).
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