Student-Author: Clarissa Strecker (Germany)
Bachelor’s Student in International Business
Co-Creative Organizational Leadership course – the COOL course – Fall 2022
In most workplaces, teams are becoming more diverse, and constellations are changing much more rapidly. This requires adaptation to the fluctuating environment, and the skill of knowing how to prevent conflicts and misunderstandings, as well as dealing with them when they arise.
As per definition, a team of two or more “people working together as a group in order to achieve something” (Cambridge Dictionary, 2023). Working together, not alongside each other, meaning that there inevitably needs to be some form of cooperation and group dynamic between the members of the team. How important this cooperation and the mutual understanding between the members is, is something I realized during a group project in Marcella Zoccoli’s course Co-Creative Organizational Leadership at JAMK University of Applied Sciences.
We were a group of five people in a class of forty-four international students and needed to produce a video clip and a report on the topic of successful and unsuccessful styles of leadership in a co-creative environment. My group consisted of an Argentinian, three French, and me, a German.
Usually, I do not like to spoil the endings of things, but by the due date of the project, we had managed to hand in two products of the group work that all of us were very satisfied with. This can be traced back to the following five factors that were making our teamwork successful:
- A common vision for the result we wanted to produce
- Constant, clear communication about ideas, tasks, and the progress of the project
- Conscience about the challenges we might have to face
- A common understanding of others’ experiences and skills
- Empathy, patience, and humor
Our common vision was developing a unique idea into a good video and a detailed report. It was important to know the urgency that each of us felt toward the project. Were we working to achieve excellence or did some of us just want to pass the course? We all agreed on distributing tasks evenly and working what we could on them, while constantly communicating about our time availabilities and progress. In the beginning, we collected ideas on how we could do the video with the given criteria and how we could best show the differences between good and bad leaders.
We defined the criteria for good and bad, successful and unsuccessful leaders, and afterward created scenarios for their demonstration of them. For the scenarios, we partly used experiences that some of our group’s members had made during internships or jobs. Those people shared their experiences and we tried to understand the situation and emotions as best as we could to display them in the video later.
We first figured out who was good at what, e.g., one person from our team had some experience with video editing, while another was really creative and I was quite good with the writing parts, so we distributed the tasks accordingly.
While we were working on our tasks and filming the video and writing the report, we regularly communicated about our progress, what still needed to be done and what we needed help with. We had a really good group dynamic, and even though none of us had known any of the others before, we had a lot of fun during the project, and it felt like working with friends.
I believe that teamwork is something that you cannot just hope to work, by hoping that your team members will be communicative or productive, you need to work to make it work. Especially in a culturally diverse environment! Awareness about potential cultural differences, creating an environment for open and honest communication, and finally also showing empathy and communicating effectively have shown for me to be key in group situations that have the potential for misunderstandings and conflicts.
Cambridge Dictionary. (2023). Team. In Cambridge Dictionary. Accessed on 1 January 2023. Retrieved from https://dictionary.cambridge.org/dictionary/english/team
Strecker, C. (2022). Personal experience