Group Dynamics Term Paper

Pages: 7 (2174 words)  ·  Style: APA  ·  Bibliography Sources: 4  ·  File: .docx  ·  Level: College Senior  ·  Topic: Leadership

Group Dynamics

In today's business world, companies are increasingly realizing the value of group work in order to further their mission and goals. Indeed, there is a rising trend in understanding that individual executive coaching and mentoring can be imperfect solutions to the problems and challenges companies face today (Brenner, 2009). Because group and team work is often required to reflect the real-world dynamics that business executives need to face. This however has its own challenges. In the group situation, executives will need to use leadership and interpersonal skills to engage in actions such as developing executive skill sets, provide constructive feedback, maintain interpersonal communication, and handle real-world challenges as they occur (Brenner, 2009). Because group work is becoming the norm in contemporary business setups, it is essential for the business person not only to understand, but also to optimally utilize the group dynamic for furthering the mission and goals of his or her company.

I. UNDERSTANDING the GROUP DYNAMIC in Business

Brenner (2009) provides a number of guidelines for understanding the function of a group within the business paradigm. A group will for example engage in collective and individual introspection. Self-evaluation and gap analysis are two functions of this introspection. The group members and their leaders can for example analyze the group's collective function and success in reaching goals and objectives.

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Individually, each group member and leader provides feedback to other individuals, which is then used in individual introspection. This provides a valuable platform for both personal and group development, for the ultimate benefit of the company as a whole. This introspection factor can also lead to an enhancement of emotional intelligence, both within the group setup and in the company as a whole.

Term Paper on Group Dynamics Assignment

A group setup can help individuals to better handle their emotions and actions, concomitantly with those of their fellow group members. Leaders play a key role in managing these emotions, especially during times of high work-related stress situations. This encourages executive development for the benefit of both the group, individuals and the company. A high level of emotional intelligence for example relates to lower stress levels and better work performance.

Finally, all these elements of the group dynamic are conducive to collective learning. Learning in the group dynamic takes place much more efficiently and cost-effectively than the same level of development for individual executives. Learning and development takes place by means of feedback and questioning, which challenges both leaders and group members to innovative thinking, which in turn leads to practical solutions.

It should however also be kept in mind that effective group situations do not occur automatically. Certain group dynamics are more challenging than others, particularly if the group is newly formed and members do not yet know each other very well. Key factors in creating a favorable group climate includes attention to leadership, communication, and cohesiveness.

II. GROUP COHESIVENESS and POSITIVE INTERDEPENDENCE

Group cohesiveness is defined as a "measure of the attraction of a group to its members." Included in this attraction, is the group members' resistance to leaving the group, their team spirit, and their willingness to engage in a coordinated effort for a collective goal (Oxford Brookes University, 2010). A high level of cohesiveness will then result in characteristics such as group members referring to the collective "we" rather than the individual "I"; a sense of cooperative and friendly interaction; and as a result achieve their aims effectively.

A low-cohesive group is precisely the opposite, where group members will frequently be absent from meetings, form cliques and factions, and experience a frustrating lack of results and attainment.

In order to determine the cohesive level of a group, group leaders could ask themselves questions regarding the satisfaction of group members with the group and each individual's role; the atmosphere of meetings in terms of joviality and loyalty; and the cooperation of group members with each other to reach a common goal.

A high level of group cohesiveness leads to and relates to positive interdependence. This means that group members each contribute a valuable portion to the group function, which ultimately makes the whole more than the sum of its parts. Frey, Fisher and Everlove (2009) for example note that many regard this factor as the most important element among cooperating group members.

The authors refer to positive interdependence as an understanding among the group members that each individual's success is linked with the success of each other member of the group and of the group as a whole. In this way, interdependence means that group members do not work individually, but rather that each member contributes to the collective effort.

Groups, often being involved in decision-making, do so by means of social influence and social interaction. Group interaction is vital in making sound decisions, with each group member contributing his or her own views regarding the decision to be made. Groups with the necessary cohesive and interactive ties will make more effective decisions than those with low cohesiveness levels. Ultimately, this will then also relate to collaborative learning via feedback, and excellence both in group work and leadership, as mentioned above.

Leadership in this regard is vital. Group leaders can exert a level of influence on group members, depending upon their perception of the leader's style. Leaders can encourage or discourage groups to accept a workplace proposal by leading social interaction in a certain way. This is for example done by means of placing a suggestion at the center of group discussions and leading the discussion in the desired direction. A positive perception of the leader will then encourage more likely acceptance among group members via social interaction.

III. GROUP LEADERSHIP

Leadership is vitally important within the group setup. When groups are formed, some members may distinguish themselves as leaders, while others prove themselves more effective in following instructions or offering innovative ideas for follow-up and investigation by the rest of the group. In this way, groups should be constructed very carefully, being composed of a variety of talents and strengths. Group cohesiveness and positive interdependence will then reveal the appropriate roles, including that of leadership, for each group member.

In order to understand the role and emergence of leadership within a group, the specific dynamics of leadership appropriate to group interaction should be investigated. Galanes (2010) defines leadership, as seen by social scientists, as a process of interpersonal influence. Hence, the leader carries a certain level of accepted authority by his or her subordinates.

In a group dynamic, leadership would occur on a more equal level than leadership by management within a corporation as a whole. The group leader emerges as such because of his or her leadership skills and influence within the group. The influence is endorsed by the cohesiveness within the group, and accepted by the group members. In addition, a group may reveal more than one appropriate leader for specific situations, and hence leadership may be interchangeable within the group. Positive interdependence will accept such leadership as appropriate, as it is based upon action rather than upon coercive decision.

Importantly, another component of leadership, as defined by Galanes (2010) is communication. This is an important component within any business, but especially within the group dynamic. Communication is the vehicle for all the other elements of the group dynamic. Effective communication means not only effective leadership, but also an effective group dynamic in general. All group work and growth rest upon interpersonal communication. Effective communication in turn rests upon group cohesiveness and positive interdependence.

Galanes (2010) distinguishes between two types of leaders: the designated and the emergent. The designated leader is generally appointed by a committee of leaders within a large corporation or company. An emergent leader proves leadership skills within more informal situations, such as groups. Emergent leaders prove themselves helpful and valuable to other group members. In this way, respect is gained by means of positive interdependence, where the emergent leader becomes respected by a group of peers rather than a group of subordinates. It is a leadership dynamic that evolves from natural abilities rather than an imposed decision by a removed body of management.

Leadership in a group is vitally important to the group's effective functioning. Without leadership, a group will be unable to focus its goals and aims. As the group works together, those who prove themselves to have leadership skills will be able to focus the group's actions and functions for the effective attainment of their goals. Brainstorming sessions will for example also be more effective by a leader's keen insight into problems and their resolutions.

According to Galanes (2010), emergent group leaders have a specific and appropriate source of influence that is accepted unanimously by the rest of the group members. Once again, this influence evolves dynamically rather than being established coercively, because of the informal type of leadership involved. A group leader will probably have a combination of referent and expert power.

Referent power, according to the author, refers to a leader's attractiveness and the respect he or she commands. Expert power… [END OF PREVIEW] . . . READ MORE

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