• Patricia Mezu, LL.M., M.A

Developing Team Cohesion

‘It takes a village to raise a child’. Yes , we’ve all heard that. But what does it take to create a village?

Working with and teaching young children is complex! Every child comes in with prior knowledge, experiences, temperaments, needs and interest. Developing knowledge about each child and building a deeper understanding of their learning styles supports the management and effectiveness of a classroom.

The same concept can also relate to how leaders can create cohesion in a team and motivate others to learn and grow.

As a leader you may have great vision, but without the support of your team, that vision will not be achieved or sustained.

How to Develop Cohesion

Developing cohesion occurs by communication, which is vital when leading people, but the way one communicates to individual members is key.

Here are some pointers for leaders:

  1. Take the time to understand how individual members prefer to be communicated with. This supports growth and instils team work. Some may respond to informal conversation, others may prefer written communication; while some may feel more confident communicating in a forum or collaborative group.

  2. Just like you often modify your communication style to suit individual children’s needs, it’s also important to change your methods of communication to suit adults within a team.

  3. Being an effective leader means  increasing your understanding of and tolerance for, diverse ways of communicating. 

Learning Styles

Everyone learns differently. Everyone has strengths and limitations. Ensuring that team members are supported according to their learning style will ultimately foster growth and motivation in a team.

Again, as leaders we often find ourselves in situations where we have to modify our leadership style to support cohesion in a team.

Some members are flexible, while others need time to process information. Some are visual learners, while others auditory learners. Some learn via role modeling while others prefer a coaching style.

Throughout my experience in leading people, I have found myself constantly moving from one leadership style to another, according to individual members. This is not easy, it can be exhausting and demanding, but it works. I’ve also found that this style of leadership instils respect between members and everyone feels they are a vital component in meeting the overall vision. I am seen as approachable, supportive and staff often work hard to not let the team down.

Getting to Know Your Team

  • Take the time to get to know people - interests, hobbies, strengths?

  • What are their visions for this team?

  • What do they value most?

  • Observe them. The majority of communication is non-verbal. Are some member quiet/ non-engaged during team meeting?  Do some seem nervous during spontaneous meetings?

  • Questionnaires such as the Myer Briggs personality assessment are fun and informative

  • Ask them! They know themselves best

  • Plan meetings outside of work, often people are more relaxed and express themselves more

  • Develop cultural competencies. This is particularly important as we all work and lead within multicultural environments

Marrem Murad is a Kindergarten Team Leader and Teacher at the Victoria International School, Sharjah, United Arab Emirates.

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