Leaders and Team Participation: The
Whys and Whens
As tempting as it is to make all the decisions by yourself and ignore everyone else, doing so is rarely a
good idea. Ensuring team participation is one of the key objectives a leader should strive for. Team
participation refers to team members being directly involved in the process of a project and not merely
carrying out tasks delegated to them. However, some situations are better off without team participation.
Leaders and Team Participation
1) Deeper Insights
Team leaders rarely have extensive knowledge over a situation. Thus their job is merely to coordinate a
group of individuals and organize their knowledge and skills for the entire team to use. Team
participation is extremely important when a project covers differing fields of knowledge. No one person
can cover all these fields; thus a single individual needs to specialize in one field and the leader must be
able to extract this knowledge for everyone else to work with.
2) A Source of Motivation
In general, people like feeling as though they have a sense of control. Team participation gives workers a
feeling of self-worth, as though their suggestions are important and are being taken into account. A
spillover effect occurs and workers are likely to strive and contribute further because they now have a
stake in the project.
1) If there is Adequate Time
Collecting opinions and perspectives from your team members takes time. Only do so if the situation
permits it: Lax deadlines and long term projects are perfect as they give you sufficient time to get
everyone’s participation. If the deadline is urgent and you still press forward with getting full
participation, two things will happen.
Firstly, there is a likelihood that you will miss the deadline. This is either because the very process of
collecting information from everyone takes too much time, or because sorting out conflicting opinions
between team members will end up delaying actual action. Secondly, you might end up unintentionally
giving the cold shoulder to a team member due to the lack of time to take into account all suggestions. You
may also fail to convey why you decided to exclude their suggestion. This is problematic because it makes
your efforts to include everyone seem like a sham.
2) If the Size of Your Team is Manageable
Common sense –the larger the group gets, the harder it is to get everyone’s participation. Either you end
up ignoring some suggestions, leading to disappointed members, or you get a barrage of conflicting
opinions. This ties in closely with issues of time. Small groups are best when it comes to full team
participation. Close bonds between team members develop faster here and discussion is easier.
3) If their Opinions are Actually Important
Repetitive and mechanical tasks rarely require any participation beyond the basics from your fellow
teammates. Sometimes the knowledge or skill sets held by a team member are similar to the ones held by
you. In this case, team participation may not actually lead to any new developments. Thus, use your
discretion if you feel that nothing fruitful will come out of further participation in a project.