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What is the role of a team leader?

An interview with Anouk Grevin

In today’s economic context, what is the role of a manager or of any person who, within a company, is responsible for leading work teams? Whether in the corporate or in the social sector, the challenging day-to-day reality of working in a team, with objectives to achieve, can question many of the basic theories that students and professionals learn about in school. That is why theoretical knowledge needs to be put into practice through simulations of frequent real-life work situations.

We’ve discussed the matter with Anouk Grevin from France. She is Professor at the Polytech of Nantes University and has been a lecturer in the Economics and Management specialisation programme at Sophia since 2014. The programme follows the line of research of the School of Civil Economy and the Economy of Communion.

What methodology do you present to your students in the Work Management course?

At Sophia, we focus our research on the motives that inspire work team management according to the principles of an economy that is centred around the human person. We choose to have a practical approach alongside the study of theory - I often present critical cases in class, so that everyone gets the chance to engage in a real-life simulation and to participate in making decisions. Students really appreciate these practical sessions, which usually bring new ideas, methods and contents.

Could you give us some examples?

In my last course, I proposed an in-depth learning itinerary, starting from the foundations of Civil Economy and the Economy of Communion. What inspires a company’s actions? What prompts economic actors to pursue happiness over profits? That way, we try to approach the more practical dimensions of the discipline moving from the principles that inspire it.

Is that a constant and apparently unresolved challenge?

It is fair to say that one of the defining features of a manager’s role is the condition of having to reconcile apparently incompatible needs, all the time. In my course, we look at this apparent paradox in order to learn to evaluate the full consequences of every choice and every scenario. It’s no coincidence that the course title has the word ‘work’ in it – in each lesson, we look first and foremost at the relationships among people at work, real people with their own needs and resources.

Research has shown that employees tend o suffer when managers underestimate the importance of relationships within the company. Why is that?

A company cannot grow or achieve significant results if the work and specific contribution of each and every single employee is not recognised and acknowledged. The ability of a manager to listen and to encourage an attitude of dialogue and mutual sharing is essential for the growth of a company and of those who work within it. In fact, developing this ability is a pedagogical priority in our course. We encourage active participation  through role play, case study analysis and by testing the students’ own management styles. Because we’re talking about a skill set that is primarily acquired through practice.

Almost like a collective lecture, then, which involves dialogue, debate, and some risks too?

Exactly. In my last course, for example, we chose to focus on the ability to listen and to give, and we had an interdisciplinary debate on the topic, discussing its philosophical and psychological implications. Another distinctive feature of the course is the personal relationship  I try to establish with each of my students, so that the collaborative dimension becomes part of what they learn in class, and so that they learn to work on their interpersonal skills. That is also why we give great importance to oral presentations and to the study of company evaluation methods, and we analyse concepts like the meaning of authority in hierarchical relationships, autonomy and management control.

Author: Redazione Web
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