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Teamwork and Leadership: Overcoming Challenges Case Study

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Updated: Jun 24th, 2020

Teamwork in an organization is very important, as it is one of the ways through which success can be achieved. In every team, there should be a leader to oversee all the activities that the team members carry out. The leader should have good management skills and excellent interpersonal skills. The latter helps the team leader relate well with all the team members, while the former helps the leader in controlling, directing, organizing, as well as planning all the activities that are carried out by the team. A leader should also have the ability to solve problems and deal with various situations in the organization. For instance, the leader should be able to solve conflicts in case they occur in the organization. Conflicts have the ability to create discomfort and affect the productivity of members. Interpersonal skills are also very important. A leader with these skills is able to unite the team, despite any differences that may arise. In case a team member has higher abilities compared to the leader, the leader is still able to cope with the situation using his interpersonal skills (Whetten & Cameron, 2011).

In the Knowlton Case Study, a team of people with different skills and expertise were working in a laboratory on a project, where they were constructing a particular object. Knowlton was the leader of the group, as he was arguably the one with the best leadership skills and had the best experience and knowledge regarding the project. Jerrold, who was the head of the organization, wished to introduce Fester to one of the teams in the laboratory. He initially sent him to Knowlton to see what the team had been doing. Fester was very interested in what Knowlton and his team were doing and he wanted to join the team, which he later did. He happened to be more skillful in the project compared to all the other team members, including Knowlton. This made Knowlton very uncomfortable because he thought he was likely to lose his leadership position to Fester, a thing he was not willing to welcome. However, he would never raise this concern any time he had a meeting with Jerrold. Instead, he spoke highly of Fester and praised his work.

Knowlton felt that Fester should not make a presentation on the day the sponsors of the research came to see the progress of the project and get an idea of what was been going on, as he thought this would expose his inadequacies. However, he had mixed feelings about the idea. First, he felt that he was not in a good position to present what Fester had been doing because he was not in a position to answer some of the questions that he would be asked regarding the presentation. On the other hand, he felt that he could do the presentation on the part he had done and the part that had been done before Fester came only. However, he felt that if Fester was to be present, then he was likely to make comments regarding the presentation and end up exposing him (Knowlton) as being inadequate. Fester had made large contributions to the project, thus Knowlton did not have any choice, but to let Fester do a presentation of what he had been doing.

Fester was allowed to attend the meeting, despite not being part of the administration. Additionally, he presented his work impressively, leaving all those who attended impressed. He left many people talking about the presentation and the brilliance of the work that he had done. This made Knowlton very uncomfortable and made him feel more threatened that he was likely to lose his position to Fester. He decided to find a job in another organization, but he did it without telling anyone. He got a job that paid him slightly better and wrote to Jerrold that he was quitting for personal reasons. This was not received well by Jerrold, as he wanted Knowlton to continue leading the team and assign Fester to lead another team that was being formed shortly. However, Jerrold did not talk about the issue to Knowlton, but he went on to find a way of dealing with the situation that just came up.

From the case, it is clear that Knowlton was a good leader, as he was able to meet the team. There were no conflicts and the members of the team were in good terms with him during his time as a leader. However, Knowlton was a leader who could be said to suffer from an inferiority complex. He was not able to handle the pressure of the fact that Fester was better than him. In addition, he was not ready to watch Fester take up the position of the team leader. On the other hand, Fester was a very bright person, who could actually be classified as a genius. However, he could be termed as arrogant and one who did not have good interpersonal skills. This would be evident when he would be rude to the other members of the team. He would also refuse any opinion they gave, terming the opinions as being based on ignorance, except for Link the mathematician. The relationship between Fester and the rest of the team members was not very healthy due to his attitude. He was not patience with the rest of the members. He even made remarks regarding them to Jerrold.

The two, Knowlton and Fester, were good leaders who had knowledge and skills in what they did. However, they had different levels of knowledge and their leadership abilities were also at different levels. First, Knowlton was a leader who seemed to be highly influential, as people liked him. He motivated all the group members. For instance, when meetings would be called, even the secretaries were usually part of the meeting. Knowlton believed that every member of the team was important and they should all be included in the meetings, as their contributions were highly appreciated, regardless of the positions they held. This made every member of the group feel as part of the team and became motivated to be in the meetings (Whetten & Cameron, 2011). The end result was that the team members were highly productive to the best of their ability. Knowlton was also skillful. He had a lot of knowledge and experience in his area of work. He was newly promoted to that position, and he was productive in the position. According to Jerrold, Knowlton was a member of the staff and was very valuable. The two had a good relationship and they were getting on very well. Jerrold spoke highly of Knowlton and he was aggrieved when he left, as he knew he had lost a good person.

As a leader, it is important to possess the kind of skills that Knowlton had. His management skills were excellent. He knew how to manage the activities that were taking place in the lab. He was able to handle all the employees well. However, he was afraid of being challenged. This was a weakness on his side. He was made to feel uncomfortable by the skills of Fester to an extent of quitting the job. He lacked the ability to handle such a bright employee and he was afraid of losing his position to him.

On the other hand, Fester was a leader who had a lot of knowledge on what he was doing. First, he was very good at problem solving, a quality that Knowlton did not have. For instance, there was a problem that the team had failed to solve and had kept it aside. However, when Fester came and was made aware of the problem, he was of the opinion that the problem could be solved. In fact, he was able to come up with ideas on how the problem could be solved within a short time. This indicated that the two leaders were different and they possessed different skills (Whetten & Cameron, 2011). Therefore, they would be highly productive if they worked together, as they would be able to handle all the issues together. The organization would be advantaged to have both leaders together, as it would have everything needed for leadership and success.


Whetten, D. A., & Cameron, K. S. (2011). Developing management skills (8th ed.). Toronto, Canada: Prentice Hall.

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