In reading about the dynamics of Group Leadership, I thought about times when I have been in the position of leader. I also thought about leaders I have worked with, comparing them to the material presented in the class. Good leaders have to have an understanding of the members of their group, but also the way in which the group will work as a unit. Good leaders must also demonstrate skills in motivation in order to help a group get the task accomplished.
I was interested to find a list of interpersonal skills for leaders who are seeking to maintain the optimal functioning of a group (Coover, 1985). These skills include encouragement, expressing and understanding feelings, relieving tension, compromise, creating harmony, mediation, facilitation, standard setting, modelling, listening, building consensus, and evaluation. This list is far from complete. However, it helps to counter the old adage that “leaders are born, not made.” This set of skills can be learned through practice .
One suggestion made in this book is that potential leaders learn their own leadership style. In looking at Lewin’s (1939) leadership styles (autocratic, democratic, laissez-faire), I would say that I tend to be democratic in my own approach. I see a delegative style as being more appropriate in a work situation but it is often difficult to get others to understand their role in contributing ideas, initiating activities, and following through when they are not directed. Overall, I have more exposure to working with leaders that utilize an autocratic approach to leadership. In many jobs, this style is both effective and necessary. There are also times when a more autocratic style must be employed. Shifting from a delegative style to an autocratic style in some situations seems like a difficult task if members of the group do not understand the reason for the change.
- Coover V. (1985).”Resource Manual for a Living Revolution”, London: New Society Publishers