Teamwork: Leadership Theories, Political Ideologies And Cultural Ideologies

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All organisations rely on the strengths of its worker and their ability to perform well together for its success. Creating a well-balanced team requires the employer to strive to find, retain and develop employees with particular characteristics in their personality as well as the relevant formal qualifications. The thought behind this is that these attributes will complement other employees as well as the cause of the company, which enables employees to be more effective in their work. This report sets out to identify the key skills and characteristics needed to be a successful leader within a youth centred organisation. Beginning by defining theories in leadership and management, focusing on different management styles in order to identify the impact on team dynamics and collaborative working. The report leads on to an analysis of political ideologies and cultural ideologies whilst in the contexts of working with children and young people, highlighting key factors and setbacks in current practice. Concluding with a summary of the findings.

Leadership Theories

The leadership role is an integral part of any team, the leader sets the standard of the whole team and its way of working. This is ultimately what drives the team and determines how well a team of people come together to achieve their set objectives. A great leader will find the right style of management for their team, inspiring and encouraging team members to carry out their roles within a group with confidence. Whereas less favourable styles have the opposite effect, leaving the team to feel unmotivated, under pressure, unsure of their role. Theories in leadership and management have been developed over recent years and now play a major part in guiding practice in all sectors of business.

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Theories have been defined and categorised in four groups which are;

  1. Trait Theories – Suggests the specific traits needed in leadership
  2. Behavioural Theories – Focuses on the behaviour of the leader. Autocratic, Democratic or Laissez-Faire.
  3. Situational Theories – Centres around the balance of relationships between business and human relations.
  4. Power and Influence Theories – Based around techniques leaders use to influence the team.

For this report a focus on behavioural theories has been selected. The paragraph below centres the reading on behavioural theories in a discussion on management styles.

There are three styles of leadership which are: authoritarian, democratic, and laissez-faire.

Authoritarian – tend to rule their groups without any input from the group.

Positive characteristics of a typical authoritative leadership style include;

  • Extensive knowledge on laws and legislation around their work
  • Well thought out controls
  • Knowledge in all areas of the business
  • Listens actively and offers the appropriate reaction
  • Disciplined

These positive attributes help to motivate a group towards achieving their tasks efficiently. The team are confident in their role as they have a clear understanding of what is expected of them. Negative attributes include;

  • Not open to long discussion
  • Believes that rules provide security – can be non-flexible
  • Expect respect for the hierarchy

This can lead to high tension amongst the group. that employees may feel frustrated with little chance of development or freedom of choice. There is further danger as with no trust and no concern for the groups’ interests, increased rivalry, also weakens the group. Talents are not recognised and therefore not rewarded. Research has shown over and over again that teams react well to praise and incentives therefore without these the group is a threat of losing focus and motivation.

Democratic – tries to include everyone in the decision-making process.

Positive characteristics of a typical democratic leadership style include;

  • Uses praise and recognition to incite others to follow the same ethic.
  • Happy to find compromises allowing team members the flexibility and freedom to approach their work as they see fit
  • Motivating has varied ideas to inspire and support
  • Easily gains the confidence of the group
  • Freedom of opinion is encouraged
  • Promotes equal rights and opportunities

This maybe considered the most favourable style in youth work as it adopts a management style that will ensure clear expectations are set but there is some flexibility shown which will allow the leader to adapt the style to each individual in the group.

There can be come disadvantages to this style such as;

  • tasks can be time consuming for the leader.
  • no optimal solutions.
  • lots of discussions can become boring.

Laissez-Faire – lets the group function without much guidance or interference from the leader.

Characteristics of a typical laissez-fair leadership style include;

  • Gibes team members the freedom to choose
  • Relies on team members for ideas for achieving set goals
  • Makes no time for preparation and tends to ‘wing it’

The disadvantages of this style are that the group attempts to overstep the limit, there will often be unsatisfied members of the team, tolerance between the group members is destroyed, they are also likely to disregard the rules, weaker members are held back due to lack of development, no initiative, no team feeling, the group does not stick together and outsiders are noticeable (Youth Work Practice, n.d.).

Establishing strong leadership is only one aspect of creating the ideal team. The skills and attributes of the individuals that make up the team and the relationships between them dictate how the team operates (Nutcache, 2019). Realising the characteristics and natural behaviours of individuals helps the leader determine who will work best on particular tasks and who will work well together (Hoggarth, Merton, & Tyler, 2009). Dr Meredith Belbin observed that people working within a team have a tendency to behave, contribute and interrelate with others in a particular way, assuming what he called ‘team roles’ (Mind Tools Videos, 2017). Belbin was able to define nine team roles with particular characteristics that underline team success (Belbin, 2019) you can find information on each role and it’s attributes at

The nine roles fall in to three core characteristics: people, action and thinking giving a leader the ability to consider the behaviours of their team and how their relationships may complement/hinder a project (Mind Tools Videos, 2017).

Dr Bruce Tuckman developed his Forming Storming Norming Performing theory which is a useful tool when trying to understand team development and behaviour (Situational Leadership, 2013). Tuckman’s model explains how the team develops describing a growth which allows the team to establish their style once they have undergone the phases of; forming, where the group first meet and get to know each other, storming, where the group are putting their ideas on the table and they try to make it fit, norming, where the group confirm their ideas and plan how they can reach their objectives, performing, which is the group actually implementing the task and lastly there is an adjourning phase where the group are able to reflect on the implementation to gather data and access the project and its success (Situational Leadership, 2013).

Political ideologies and Cultural ideologies

Ideologies refer to a set of ideas and values that offers a foundation for organised political action, Ideologies have such an impact on policy making, as the government will base their policies around these political ideologies (Cooper, 2012).

In the UK youth work sits between education and social work, a specialised form of education, as noted by the National Youth Agency (National Youth Agency, 2019). Youth work helps young people learn about themselves, others and society through activities that combine enjoyment, challenge, learning and achievement. The relationship between youth worker and young person is central to this process (Hoggarth, Merton, & Tyler, 2009). Experiential, Informal, and participative dimensions have been youth work’s defining features since the 1960s (Roche, Tucker, Thomson, & Flynn, 2004). The youth worker does not have to hold a senior position to be a leader their role is to guide and mentor young people so in essence they are always a leader. This is the most integral professional ideology for a youth worker, the commitment to young people which means the conscientiousness expected in their working hours can also transpire in to their personal life (Ord, 2012). UK policy has historically defined youth as a largely challenging and problematic social category. This has positioned youth work in a difficult and defensive space within the public professional division of labour (Ord, 2012).

As non-statutory services, youth services, alongside libraries and other leisure facilities, have faced large cuts in recent years. This has heavily impacted the standard of services that are solely for the young people in today’s society. The reduction in funding has resulted in slashed training budgets and a lack of trained professionals in the field and local authorities now rely on volunteers and voluntary organisations to fill the void.


All leaders and managers in youth work and youth organisations have a unique opportunity to inspire and support the young people they work with, installing in them; skills, confidence and an ethic that they can carry with them through life (Ford, Hunter, Merton, & Waller, 2005). In order to achieve this leader’s will have set objectives for their team, their style of management will dictate each team members approach to their individual tasks, as well as how well the team work together when completing group projects (Youth Work Practice, n.d.). Without a structured approach to their work opportunities for the young people they work with will remain restricted (Ord, 2012). Theories in leadership and management guide practice. Behavioural characteristics of the leaders define the way a team operates. A successful team needs to have strong, adaptable leadership and skilled management at all levels (Hoggarth, Merton, & Tyler, 2009). To be successful a team will be made up of different characters which have strengths in different areas allowing the right people to take responsibility for tasks best suited to them so the whole team is able to achieve its goals effectively and efficiently (Belbin, 2019). The perfect team does not just manifest itself, Tuckman’s model on team behaviours explains the process a team will go through to establish the roles within the group and determine the way in which they will operate in order to successfully achieve their goals (Situational Leadership, 2013). Working with young people and families it is important to always consider political and cultural ideologies that may impact the work to be carried out.


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