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Option #1: Observational Research for Leadership in a Group Setting
In any group setting, each member has a set of assumptions and biases regarding how groups interact as well as preconceived notions of expected individual roles and behaviors. Leaders have an obligation to recognize their own biases and to observe individuals and group dynamics as objectively as possible. Take the opportunity in this Critical Thinking Assignment to practice objectivity in research.
- This Critical Thinking Assignment culminates in the form of a management report* based on data from your own observational research of a group or team with which you have frequent interaction.
[NOTE: if you are unable to physically access a location for observational research or to conduct such observations in general, you may complete this assignment by doing one of the following: a) enlisting the support of another person who can help you interpret the group; b) write a paper on the best practices to employ, using a group scenario that you construct and describe. Address all the questions and requirements in the regular assignment; or c) ask a group if you may observe them using SKYPE or FaceTime, for example. Reach out to your instructor for more assistance]
- To prepare for the observational research, Western (2013) suggests that observers work to set aside any preconceived notions of what might be discovered. Western uses the term “follow the actors” to describe how an objective observer strives to follow the leads of the group members rather than assuming what might be involved. Also, look beyond the human actors to note the role of non-human elements of the setting.
- Observe the group and answer the following:
- Who is sitting at the leadership table and who is absent?
- Whose voices are heard and whose aren’t, and why?
- Whose values and interests are being represented?
- Is there leadership that goes unnoticed?
- Once the observations are completed, prepare the data for analysis. You might define categories or identify themes based on what was recorded. Then, analyze the data according to two or three leadership theories from this weeks required readings and lecture. Gather additional scholarly literature related to your findings and the associated theories.
- Prepare a management report for a hypothetical audience of managers that have a stake in the observed group’s success.
The management report:
Include five (5) sections within a maximum of five pages (in addition to the required title and reference pages and appendices). The report sections include:
- The Introduction of your investigation, including a statement about why the research is important (remember your audience!)
- A description of how you collected the observational data, prepared these data, and analyzed for results. Explain why these methods are appropriate (support with scholarly sources)
- A literature review of the two associated theories
- A discussion of the results and how the managers might use the findings to promote group or team effectiveness
- A summary of the investigative process and a closing statement of what you, the researcher, learned from the study.
- Use appendices to include raw data, data preparation worksheets, or analytic tools.
- Include associated citations and reference page.
- Format your entire report according to APA