The Important role group dynamics plays in organizational leadership
While William Golding’s famous novel Lord of the Flies is usually studied in high school, this classic novel provides important lessons about group dynamics that prove useful to working professionals.
Nothing in today’s workplace is quite as dramatic as what happens to this novel’s group of British school boys stuck on a desert island, but its lessons are still applicable today: Without structure, trust and clear leadership, a group of people trying to manage themselves will result in a disaster.
Companies rely on individual and collective efforts. Nurturing team members’ talents, experiences and skills requires an understanding of group dynamics.
At the core of successful teams is trust. Good teams accomplish great things when participants trust each other’s decisions and actions. When team members do not trust each other they sometimes waste time discussing next steps. Trust also creates an atmosphere of healthy conflict and challenges.
Individuals in successful work groups also have clearly defined roles and responsibilities. Each person knows what their duties are and who on their team they can rely on to carry out the task. Managers often facilitate this process by assigning tasks and roles to team members. However, a goal of good workplace dynamics is that people connect with one another directly and not just with the manager or team leader.
In the Inc. article, “Build a Winning Team Dynamic,” Michael A. Olguin, president of public relations firm Formula PR, says: “When individuals know what their role and responsibilities are, there is far less competitiveness in an organization. It allows employees to come together as a team in an enriching environment where everyone can contribute creatively and strategically.”
Taking a closer look at group dynamics requires examining the parts of the whole. To pinpoint how well, or unsuccessfully, a team is working, consider:
- Individual actions and accountability. Leaders can assess individual contributions and all group members can hold each other personally accountable for completing, as scheduled, the commitments each person has made to the team.
- Interactions between individuals. Leaders learn the phases their groups go through as they develop in order to support strengths and solve problems. Importantly, they make sure that everyone is communicating clearly.
- Break down barriers. Barriers to group progress can occur and must be dealt with quickly to continue progress towards goals. Processes for action plans to remove barriers impacting efforts are often instilled as a part of the workplace culture.
Observing group interaction is an important part of leadership. Leaders who are mindful of how trust, communication and processes impact group dynamics can go a long way in building great teams. The organizational leadership degree program, the first of its kind in Reading, PA, at Alvernia University includes courses that cover the theories and evidence-based research related to groups and team dynamics.