“The time is always right to do what is right. "
Martin Luther King, Jr.
To build a successful organization, leaders need to understand the importance of group dynamics and team chemistry. In other words, employees and leaders need to respect each other and get along. According to Hackman and Johnson (leadership gurus), the Leader-member-exchange (LMX) Theory is another process that outlines the leader-follower development process for relationships. Let’s explore this more closely. The basic concept is that leaders generally establish two different types of relationships with followers: “in-group" and “out-group. " The in-group is granted more responsibility and influence in decisions. This may remind you of high school. Were you part of the in-group at your school? Did it hurt to be part of the out-group? Leaders need wise individuals as personal advisors; however, a leader must be careful about any organizational ramifications. Why should a leader care? The LMX Theory can create bad feelings in an organization. This could damage team chemistry and make an organization less effective. Organizational cohesiveness is critical for success.
Let’s apply this concept to a mystical journey to King Arthur’s Court and meet the Knights of the Round Table. King Arthur, the son of Uther, was made famous by withdrawing a sword (Excalibur) from a stone and made King of England. He was then given the Round Table as a dowry. Knights, such as Lancelot, were men of courage, valor, and nobleness. They were to protect damsels, fight for kings, and undertake dangerous quests like the search for the Holy Grail. The Knight Order’s dominant ideas were the love of God, men, and noble deeds. The LMX Theory was in play.
Let’s dig deeper by exploring a dyadic relationship—marriage. The LMX Theory describes the role-making process for leader-followers. Yukl, the author of Leadership in Organizations, maintains that a high-exchange relationship contains high mutual influence. Marriage involves shared experiences and common goals. What happens when things change? Follow my example. Body Boy achieves his fitness goal. Mr. Boy is transformed from a shapeless couch potato to a well-formed man. Everyone loves his transformation, except his wife. She is inactive person. She witnesses ladies swarm around Mr. Body. She screams, “Body Boy!" Sadly, misunderstandings can damage the chemistry in an organization. Have you seen it happen in your organization? Formal groups are more costly in this regard than voluntary groups because they are the creation of management, rather than arising by natural design. Organizational chemistry keeps these efforts aligned.
Clearly, good chemistry is vital in achieving any level of organizational excellence. Leaders need to build relationships with followers in a constructive manner. Therefore, organizations can accomplish this task through training and building caring corporate culture. The results will help produce good team chemistry. Start today, Leader!
Galbraith, J. (2002). Designing Organizations. New York: Jossey-Bass.
Hackman, M. & Johnson, C. (2000). Leadership: A Communication Perspective. Long Grove, IL: Waveland Press.
King Arthur & the Knights of the Round Table, http://www.kingarthursknights.com/arthur/historical.asp
Yukl, G. (2002). Leadership in Organizations. Delhi, India: Pearson Education, Inc.
Daryl D. Green has published over 100 articles in the field of decision-making (personal and organizational), leadership, and organizational behavior. Mr. Green is also the author of two acclaimed books, Awakening the Talents Within and My Cup Runneth Over. He is a columnist, lecturer, professor, and management consultant. Mr. Green has a BS in engineering and a MA in organizational management. Currently, he is a doctoral degree in strategic leadership. For more information, visit his website at http://www.darylgreen.org .