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The Army is a team, as it nurtures Soldiers to work together. The practice demonstrates that Soldiers are the most inclined to perform for other members of their unit, up to the person to their right or left. The underlying truth concerns the fact that Soldiers do not want to disappoint their coworkers or let them down. Therefore, effective team communication requires a leader, who will be able to build on the trust and commitment among team members in order to accomplish necessary missions. The current paper will demonstrate how effective teams and efficient team communication are created in the Army.
Creation of effective team communication is hard work, which requires tolerance, perfect interpersonal skills, and a cognizance of the dynamics of a team. Teams with effective communication are able to accomplish their operations in good time, within financial plan, and without misused efforts (Thomas, 2014, p. 53). Effective teams typically take the fewest casualties in the case of combat. However, effective and efficient team building and team communication can be a vigorous glue to make a unit more cohesive even during times of peace (Thomas, 2014, p. 53). Thus, the military practice suggests that the lives of the team members depend on effective communication. Team communication is vital starting from distinctly providing instructions and ending with writing a report to guiding the team on patrol. A military team performs at its best when each individual has analogous understanding, works towards agreed objectives and communicates flagrantly in both good times and bad (Thomas, 2014, p. 53). Nevertheless, the current military practice demonstrates that army’s negligence to communication, as a leadership skill is peculiarly critical in light of the opulence of modern communication tools (Thomas, 2014, p. 55). The means accessible for Army leaders to communicate their teams are the best they have ever been. It might be believed to be a paradox, however, this elevates the communication magnitude and diminishes communications between leaders and soldiers led by these leaders (Thomas, 2014, p. 56). The facts show that the Army is drowning in communications, while good leadership might be believed to be the victim. The solution of this problem is eminently simple. The Army should recognize the significance of effective team communication and integrate the teaching of communication skills throughout the Army officer education system (Thomas, 2014, p. 56).
Leadership and Team Communication in the Army
Leadership is essential for the effective team communication. Effective teams, similarly to successful leaders, are created, and not born. Thus, effective teams require a leader, who will formulate an effective team able to communicate from a group of people connected by the similar objective and mission. The leader, especially in regards with military sphere, should not only be motivated to lead, but also have ability to lead and opportunity to do so (Thompson, 2013, p. 31). Team leader has to recognize that it is significant to have varying relationships with each of the team members in order to align individual goals with general mission and vision (Thompson, 2013, p. 71). It is the process of influencing people by equipping them with an objective, guidance, and motivation while the leader is performing all necessary tasks in order to accomplish an operation and enhance the team or the whole organization (the Army). An Army leader is a person who, in consequence of appropriate function or appointed responsibility, motivates and influences people to achieve organizational objectives (Thomas, 2014, p. 62). Army leaders stimulate people both, within and beyond the chain of command to follow the operations and missions, concentrate mentality, and formulate solutions for the greater prosperity of the Army. The process of being a leader is much more complex than merely giving orders (Thomas, 2014, p. 62). The impact of an Army leader on the teams and individuals can take numerous forms. The Army leader’s words and deeds, the values the leader talks about, the example he/she sets, every action he/she takes are all part of the leader’s impact on others, especially on the teams and their communication (Thomas, 2014, p. 62).
Thus, leadership is highly important for the effective team communication, as it allows providing purpose, vision, motivation, and equipping appropriate direction. By providing purpose, the military leader enables Soldiers to observe the primary and basic rationale for a mission. Thus, the leader provides the team with the reason to operate in order to obtain a required consequence. Leaders can utilize direct means via requests or orders. As time goes on, the subordinates (soldiers) will notice that the leader communicates in a successive manner of command and decision-making that creates and formulates their credence and credit (Thomas, 2014, p. 62). Thus, the Soldiers will ultimately be able to read a situation and foresee the intentions, plans and actions. This trust successively leads to a conjunct, integrated and efficient unit. Vision is another method, which allows leaders to provide purpose (Bass & Bass, 2008, p. 132). Vision alludes to an organizational purpose, which might be more inclusive or might have less instantaneous consequences than other purpose statements (Bass & Bass, 2008, p. 132). Direction providing is also highly important for military team communication, as it makes the actions, which the team should perform, clear and, hence, the team understands how to accomplish a mission (Bass & Bass, 2008, p. 132). The military leader should share and prioritize all tasks, allocate liability for completing them (which also stands for the ability to delegate appropriate authority), and ensure that subordinates comprehend the Army standards for the tasks (Bass & Bass, 2008, p. 136). The leader can decide how to realize and fulfill a mission with the accessible people, time and resources. If the team communication is built effectively, Soldiers understand that they are supposed to carry out their leader’s orders. Nevertheless, they require a clear direction while carrying out leader’s orders. The leader should provide just enough direction to allow Soldiers to utilize their resourcefulness, capabilities and imagination. Finally, Soldiers require motivation, as this is the will to accomplish a task. Effective team communication asks leaders to learn about the Soldiers and their skills, as this helps to gear the team to the mission. If the team communication is built appropriately, the leader does not have to micromanage after giving an order (Bass & Bass, 2008, p. 145). The leader should allow the Soldiers to do their jobs to the best of their capacities. The captain can praise the team when it succeeds, or provide the team with a respect for the tentative and educated Soldiers on how to enhance if the team fails (Thomas, 2014, p. 97). The leader should remember that it takes more than just words to motivate. The example he/she sets is at least as significant as what the leader says and how well he/she manages the work. Team communication and results depend on the team’s leader ability to stay involved and motivate him/herself to obtain the best mission results, and carry over the enthusiasm. A leader’s function in motivation is to comprehend the requirements and aspirations of others, to formulate and enhance individual stimuli into team objectives, and to influence others and achieve those larger organizational aims (Thomas, 2014, p. 97). It is highly important to develop team communication, as some team members have elevated levels of inner incentive to complete a task, while others require more exhortation, reaction and feedback. This allows compensating and developing specific strategies in achieving larger goals. Finally, motivation indices initiative when something has to be accomplished (Thomas, 2014, p. 98).
Major Attributes of Effective Team Communication in the Army
The previous section vividly demonstrated that leadership is highly important for team communication, as it structures the team, formulates major objectives and demonstrates how to reach these goals. Nevertheless, each team also has specific attributives, which help it to become effective and formulates appropriate team communication. The military leader should carefully analyze all of these attributes, as he/she is the one who creates, formulates and supports the team (Bass & Bass, 2008, p. 174). Thus, firstly, the structure of any effective team is built on a basis of trust and obligation. Trust appears from the credence the affiliates have in each other, and the leader, and from their feeling of how seriously they may depend on each member and their leader. Obligation stands for each individual’s motivation and readiness to belong to the team and assist in achieving the outlined objectives. Both attributes are evenly significant for the team’s effectiveness (Bass & Bass, 2008, p. 174). The major job of the leader is to nurture these two aspects of the team, assure that they continue to increase, and endure them in the face of other factors and barriers during the mission. Therefore, it is highly significant to conceive how to foster trust and commitment in the team. There are nine major attributes of effective teams, which typically show the leader where to focus (Bass & Bass, 2008, p. 174). The first attribute concerns trust building. Army officers typically have a broad variety of resources at their command, which can help to foster trust and commitment (Bass & Bass, 2008, p. 176). The easiest way to start the process is to utilize shared experiences, including recognition exercises, activities, forums, various events, sports, emulations, fitness trainings, workshops, battle drills, war games, and social occasions. All of these actions help in building interconnections, which result in trust. Trust, in its turn, creates effective team communication (Bass & Bass, 2008, p. 176). The second attributive concerns competence. All members, starting from the team leader, should perform their functions and duties competently. Thus, efficient training is in the center of arranging competence and constant improving. Moreover, it is essential to remember that competence does not stand for simple ordinary performance or meeting of minimal norms. Competence constantly endeavors towards mastership (Bass & Bass, 2008, p. 177). The third attribute concerns integrity. Integrity stands for becoming whole. The team’s common valuables (which are repulsions of their leader’s valuables) direct their operations and assist in refining their own individual valuables. In fact, the Army Values and the Warrior Ethos, covered in the ROTC Values and Ethics Track are at the core of any Army’s integrity of a team (Thomas, 2014, p. 71). The fourth attribute stands for responsibility for other members. Team members should always stand behind and support each other. Veritable concern for the well-being of other members of the team assists in building trust (Bass & Bass, 2008, p. 178). The leader is supposed to appropriately greet and guide new members to the team, as it normally depicts the level of team communication and team affiliates’ responsibility for other members. The issues of one team member should transfer into the issue of the whole team, while the last will assist in solving these problems. This is the way how team’s strengths become the individual’s strengths (Bass & Bass, 2008, p. 179). The fifth attribute concerns intercourse. As a matter of fact, intercourse is an essential part of the team leader’s job as an officer. When the leader and the team members are clear on expectations, obtain regular feedback, and inform each other, the level of trust automatically enhances. When leaders provide minor or no genuine data, team members start to make their own suppositions, and this, in turn, diminished existing trust. Intercourse fosters trust in the team (Thomas, 2014, p. 78). Thus, the army leader is supposed to build systematic and continual two-way rapport into the team’s daily schedule. The sixth attribute regards commitment building. Trust is highly important for team communication. Nevertheless, each member should also feel and comprehend that their role and offering to the team’s work are vivid and significant (Thompson, 2013, p. 173). Otherwise, team trust and communication might suffer. If the team member does not have an individual identity or role recognized, this member fastens and becomes the weak link. Members must have their personal specifications and functions admitted within the team (Thomas, 2014, p. 78). Trustful relations stimulate team Soldiers to work together and assist each other in solving problems. Recognition of how each member has contributed to the improvement, success of the team on its missions insinuates fulfillment and self-respect in the team members, and this, in turn, enhances the members’ dedication to the team (Thomas, 2014, p. 78). The seventh attribute stands for the rewards and recognition. All people enjoy recognition, especially when they perform their functions on a proper level. An approval and leader’s enthusiasm has serious influence on team members, as it stimulates their further performance. Thus, the leader’s approval and rewards can be considered as a fuel for the engine of the commitment of team members. Nevertheless, the awards should be appropriate and fair, as unfair appraisal of some members can ruin team communication, trust and commitment (Bass & Bass, 2008, p. 179). On the other hand, fairly won appraisals and rewards can bring quick outcomes and enhance team commitment. The eighth attribute stands for the possibility to learn and develop. The facts demonstrate that an efficient team provides its members with a possibility of individual enhancement and development (Bass & Bass, 2008, p. 179). Genuine two-way communication can provide team’s leader with an opportunity to investigate the team members’ perspectives and desires. The leader is the one who should demonstrate team members how much better he/she wants them to become and assist them in becoming such professionals (Thomas, 2014, p. 78). The final attribute concerns positive environment. It is highly significant to comprehend that attitude and conduct are closely connected. The way the person acts reflects his/her attitude and vice versa. This rule typically spreads to all teams. Therefore, the team’s operating environment strengthens all emergent attitudes. Thus, if the team leader does not have or demonstrate the commitment and a positive attitude, the team will immediately conclude that their attempt to enhance can be considered as a waste of their time (Thomas, 2014, p. 81).
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Stages of Team Development in the Army
The previous sections demonstrated that the leader is highly important for the development of team effectiveness and communication. However, team communication typically develops together with the team itself. Therefore, it is highly important to understand how the team changes and how this process influences team communication, especially in the Army. Teams, similarly to individuals, have a tendency to go through different stages of development on their way of enhancing their effectiveness and communication (Dolasinski, 2015). Moreover, teams are also similar to individuals in the process of maturing at different rates. Nevertheless, almost all teams go via the three major stages. Typically, when the team progresses through the three main stages, members will develop the nine above-mentioned elements of effective teams (Dolasinski, 2015). The first stage is forming (Thompson, 2013, p. 394). This is a time when the team is fragile. Thus, Individual Soldiers may not know each other very well. This is a time when communication among members is quite basic and non-contradictory. This is a period when the team has a trend to concentrate on direct or instant tasks (Thomas, 2014, p. 97). In addition, the level of members’ trust is typically medium to high. This is a stage of conflict, in which team members begin establishing goals, work processes, and individual roles (Thompson, 2013, p. 394). Despite the fact that communication is non-contradictory, team members typically have conflicting opinions, attitudes, qualifications, surroundings, ethics, morale, and approaches to problem solving. This is the time when the majority of team members resist the leadership. The army team leader should be patient and address the requirements of team members at this particular stage, as it is highly important for minimizing the conflict and reaching higher performance levels more quickly (Thomas, 2014, p. 97). Moreover, this period is the most essential for the formulation of adequate and effective team communication. The team should be appropriately welcomed and guided, as it can help in building and developing trust and commitment. The last should be developed from the very beginning by sharing the team’s vision and depicting how valuable the Army’s mission is, as well as how significant the functions of each individual are in obtaining the military mission. The second stage is performing (Thompson, 2013, p. 395). This is a period when individualities may encounter (Thomas, 2014, p. 102). The team members might lose the concentration on the tasks and the operations during this stage. On a contrary, the team members might begin to concentrate on their personal requirements, rather than the team’s and Army’s one (Barnes, 2012). This is a period when communication becomes more advanced, however, it can become non-productive or even damaging (for example, member might get used to sarcasm or teasing). This is a stage, when the leader should distinctly concentrate on modeling integrality and communication to enhance trust. Although teams become high performing during the performing stage, this stage is not the end of the team’s development needs (Thompson, 2013, p. 395). The leader should look for minor accomplishments of teamwork and admit them before the whole team. It is highly important not to stop to communicate with the team and intensify the team’s vision. This is a period when members slowly start to accept and realize the caliber of working together. It is the time when “I” becomes “We” (Barnes, 2012). Team members intercept teamwork methods and operations, while team communication enhances. The final stage is sustainment. This is the time when the team becomes fully matured. Team becomes cohesive, productive, and makes progress towards its goals (Thompson, 2013, p. 395). Work approaches become advanced and each team member understands his/her positions, actions, and operations. Communication becomes candid, as members feel free to share their views and are comfortable while doing this. Disagreements in the team are positively resolved and there is a focus on goal achievement. Team members are also able to attend to relationship and process issues (Thompson, 2013, p. 395). Members feel self-confident and obtain high levels of refreshment from their team. The team is well organized and the team members do not expect leader to micromanage peculiar tasks. They are able to operate with the least possible direction or inspection, and they are ready to take the initiative. This is a period, when the team members’ trust in their leader and the team becomes solid (Bass & Bass, 2008, p. 197). Thus, these stages demonstrate that each team typically has to pass at least three stages to become well tuned, confident and develop an appropriate and effective communication (Thomas, 2014, p. 107).
The Army is a team. It nurtures Soldiers and makes them work together, while reaching necessary objectives and performing significant tasks and missions. The military system teaches individual soldiers to change from “I” to “We”, as the whole Army is a team. The shortage of communication in the Army can result in anarchy of chaos. Therefore, it is highly important to understand that Army’s teams’ communication should be motivated and developed through appropriate leadership. Each team requires a leader, who will control the team’s development, orient and direct it. Each team goes through at least three stages, during which all members learn how to trust each other and evolve appropriate communication attributes, skills and conducts. The paper demonstrates nine essential attributes of effective teams, which evolve as a team passes through three stages of its development. The team with effective communication stands for a group, which does not require their leader (Officer) to micromanage, as all soldiers understand their functions, roles, and responsibilities. Communication is highly important in the teams, especially in the Army, as without appropriate communication, Army teams would not be able to complete necessary missions, operations and achieve defined goals. If the Army’s communication has not evolved properly, vital data would not be transferred from the Command Chief to a net of Officers down to soldiers. This could mean that innocent people would be under threat, operations would be perverted, and ordinary information from non-commissioned officers to soldier would be in conflict.