To build a successful organization in the future, leaders will need to be deliberate in building great team chemistry. Many organizations consist of both formal and informal groups. In building a high performance organization, individuals within a team must learn how to work together. In this context, I use groups and teams interchangeable. In other words, employees and leaders need to respect each other and get along. According to leadership experts Michael Hackman and Johnson, 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 possible 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 noblity. 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. Gary 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 an 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. Good organizational chemistry keeps the informal efforts aligned with the formal ones.
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 for today’s organizations and successful organizations in the future.
How does one create good chemistry in nontraditional structures such as matrix organizations or virtual organizations? Is it possible to infuse good chemistry into a badly run organization? If so, how?
© 2010 by Daryl D. Green