Learning about the Leader-Follower relationship in teams of 4

Project Plan

We, together in partnership with the University of Maastricht and Texas University, are striving to change stereotypes of effective leadership through testing different leadership models in different situations. As a research team we have completed tertiary studies at the University of Western Australia with one of our majors being linked with the Business School. These studies have sparked our interest in team coordination and how different leadership styles can affect team effectiveness from a literary perspective to applications such as our active involvement in university clubs.

Ramon Rico, our team coordinator, is a leading researcher in this field with hundreds of citations and dozens of publications surrounding the topic of Teamwork and Leadership.

His professional insight, alongside Sjir Uitdewilligen and Mary Waller, has created a new and interesting area of research which greatly sparked our interest and willingness to join the team.


With a change in global problems becoming more dynamic and unpredictable, it’s important to assess current leadership models for their effectiveness in dealing with these problems.

With a grant being awarded to our team to investigate these complexities, we hope to identify what leadership styles and strategies are the most effective for these changes.

The issue is, that without a proper leadership strategy being utilised during these complex situations, undesirable outcomes such as injury and loss of life may occur in applications such as firefighting.

For example, if individuals are not confident communicating high risk situations with their leadership team then the situation may be addressed completely inadequately.

Our project is called “Switching gears: Training team leaders and members to adapt leadership behaviours in dynamic conditions”. Due to the vast range of conditions to be considered surrounding this topic, the study you will be taking part in is only one of four stages designed to assess specific complexities. Some of the conditions to consider are: follower training, leadership training, the interaction between leaders and followers, adaptability of teams and the teams natural ability to successfully troubleshoot issues (control groups).

The Current Situation

Together with the team in the Netherlands at the University of Maastricht and Texas Christian University we are hoping to find a relationship between leadership styles and team performance. Throughout our studies and working experiences we have always found the diversity of leadership styles interesting and how they can help engage followers and ultimately team performance.

Traditionally people often fall into a habit of taking a leadership role by “bossing” people around as its thought to be the most efficient way to get tasks done. This is often reflected in leadership roles in firefighting teams where people are ranked and directed depending on their experience.

Although this can be a very effective method of leadership it fails to allow for collaboration within a team and sometimes results in information being ignored.We are hoping to find that with adequate training, leaders will be able to comprehensively assess a situation at hand, and as a team successfully complete the task to the best possible outcome.

The information gathered during the experiments you will participate in will be used to test hypothesis surrounding which conditions will result in an optimal outcome and allow us to provide recommendations for team training and development.

Your Support

The main challenge surrounding this project is the quantity of quality participants required to gather valid and reliable data. As the study requires groups of 4 participants, a large pool of applicants is required so that we can coordinate times to conduct the experiment that works for everyone. This can be quite difficult when people’s work/ study schedules do not align, which is why the greater the pool the better chance everyone’s availability can align. Additionally, participants need to be 18 years or older which can often cause issues when groups of friends want to complete the study together.

Depending on your role, you will be asked to participate as either a follower or a leader. All roles are integral for the success of this study as we will be focusing on the relationships and interactions, not just performance.

If you are selected as “Team Leader” you will be asked to arrive 45 minutes before the followers to take part in some prior leadership training to ensure you are comfortable with your role.

The rest of the team will have approximately 20 minutes to learn how to play the firefighting game with our assistance again to ensure no one is feeling overwhelmed by playing a new type of computer game. The team of four will then unite to play 8 mini scenarios in a fire-fighting computer game with occasional questionnaire to ensure everyone is on track! This will take approximately 1.5hrs and will be guided by one of our local researchers.

Please note that the session will be video recorded to ensure a full range of data can be captured.


Participants will need to be over the age of 18 due to the recording of the session and associated ethics approval. By completing the online questionnaire you are providing preliminary consent to participate in the study. This is followed by a Consent Form when you arrive at the lab for the first time.


  • Being a part of a new research field
  • Involvement in an international study experience
  • Helping to evolve current scientific knowledge about leadership through its application to changing complex situations
  • Learning how to be comfortable communicating with a group of diverse participants
  • Understanding the importance of different leadership strategies for different situations
  • Reimbursement of expenses – $20 cash for followers, $25 cash for the leader

Thank you

Finally, we would all like to thank you greatly for your willingness to participate. Without people like you, studies like this couldn’t happen and the changes we are striving towards would never be implemented!

Please complete the pre-study questionnaire and let us know you wish to be involved so that the team can contact you and set up a time that suits.

If you desire any additional information before agreeing to participate, please do not hesitate to contact one of our friendly team listed in the “Project Members” section of this page.

Project Members

Ramon Rico Munoz
Team Leader

Associate Professor

Alison Duguid
Graduate Research Assistant

Academic Tutor

Mare Stevanvski
Graduate Research Assistant

Academic Tutor