Group Dynamics 9
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Thispaper presents an analysis of various group dynamics. In particular,the paper analyzes various topics related to group formation andstructure, conflict and leadership. The results of the analysis areapplied in the evaluation of our group’s dynamics. Our group isnumber 30 and is named “The Final Stretch.” It comprises of sixmembers, namely, PhilopateerZaki-Azat, Al-Homedawy, Eric Ye, MaddyYang, Hiba and I. PhilopateerZaki-Azat is 22 years old and he isdoing accounting major. He was born in Canada and brought up inEgypt. He is a Coptic Orthodox Christian. Al-Homedawy is 24 years oldand he is doing science major. He is a Shia Muslim and he was bornand brought up in Iraq. Eric Ye is 22 years old and he is doingpsychology major and marketing minor. He was born and brought up inChina and he is an Atheist. Maddy Yang is 22 years old and he isspecializing in marketing and strategic management. He was born inTaiwan and brought up in Canada. He is an Agnostic. I am 21 years oldand doing psychology science major. I am an American and my religiousaffiliation is American Christian Orthodox. Hiba did not submit hisdetails. Clearly, the group comprises of individuals from diversifiedbackgrounds.
Groupformation and structure
Allgroups have norms about how things are done, on top of rules policiesand procedures. Norms are behavioral expectations that are shared bymembers of a distinct group. As Lussier (2008) explains, norms upheldin a group develop spontaneously as the members interact. The normsare developed based on members’ past experience and culturalvalues. As well, the kinds of norms that are developed are influencedby knowledge, beliefs and attitudes of the group members (Lussier,2008). There is one key norm that has been developed by our group. Wedo not use words or act in any way that would lead to discriminationof any member. We have learnt to respect each other, despite ourdifferent backgrounds.
Allgroups have distinct and unique group processes, group structures andorganizational contexts that change over time. However, all of themundergo through the same phases of development (Lussier, 2008). Thereare five phases of group development, namely, orientation,dissatisfaction, resolution, production and termination. Theorientation stage of group development is characterized by low levelof development. The low level of development is caused by lack ofcompetence to undertake the job since the members have not workedtogether before. In the dissatisfaction stage, the members becomedissatisfied with various issues in the group. However, the membersstart learning how to work with one another and they eventuallydevelop some competence to carry out the job (Lussier, 2008). Theconflicts that arise are solved in the resolution stage. In thisstage, members start becoming open to one another. New roles areadopted and new standards evolve. As well, intra-group cohesivenessdevelops during this stage. There is also open exchange ofinformation. During the production stage, roles become flexible andfunctional. Structural issues are completely resolved and they cansupport task performance. Solutions to any arising issues are quicklysolved and group energy is channeled to the job. During the laststage, members start feeling anxiety about termination andseparation. This leads to sadness and negative feelings towards othergroup members and the group leader (Lussier, 2008). Our group iscurrently at the orientation phase. Although members have high levelof morale, our level of competence is still low due to the fact thatwe have not worked with each other before.
Groupcommunication networks influence flow and direction of informationwithin and between groups. As Forsyth (2009) explains, communicationnetworks and patterns influence groups in several ways. To startwith, communication networks may affect the ability for the groupmembers to complete a specific task in time. Secondly, the networksmay affect the satisfaction of group members. As well, the networksmay affect the position of the leader in the group (Forsyth, 2009).Thus, better pattern of communication within a group and betweendifferent groups will lead to higher the morale of the members(Forsyth, 2009). Our group gives priority to communication network.We usually communicate through FaceBook. In fact, I was required toreactivate my FaceBook account in order to be part of the group. As aresult of the good communication network, our group members arehighly motivated.
Conflictoccurs in almost all small groups and thus, there is need for groupleaders to have the necessary conflict management skills. There arenumerous causes of conflicts within and between groups. According toEunson (2012) conflict may be caused by misinformation ormiscommunication among the group members. As well, conflict mayoccur as a result of perceived or real differences in culture,beliefs, attitudes, perceptions and values. As Eunson (2012)explains, conflict among group members may also arise when membersdisagree on issues related to how the group’s goals should be met.In addition, conflict can be caused by disagreement among members onprocedures that should be adopted to complete particular tasks.Although members of our group have not been involved in destructiveconflict, there have been few cases of disagreements. For instance,Hiba was dissatisfied with the manner in which we collected personalinformation from the members. However, after negotiation, we agreedas members that it was important to protect his privacy and he was nolonger required to submit his personal information.
Thefirst step in managing conflict occurring within groups is todetermine the source (s) of conflict. This can be achieved throughsummoning the conflicting members and asking them to explain thesource of conflict (Rahim, 2011). After determining the source ofconflict, the person in charge of conflict management should ask allthe group members to suggest ways through which the conflict can besolved. All the group members involved should agree to cooperate inthe process of resolving the conflict. As they give theirsuggestions, they should be reminded about their mission, vision,goals and values that they should uphold. The leader in charge ofconflict management should set aside his or her opinions and listento the suggestions of the members. The conflicting members shouldthen be asked to restate their positions (Rahim, 2011). Thecommunication should be kept open to all parties involved. Once theparties involved in the conflict are ready to cooperate in finding asolution, the next step is to understand and to take intoconsideration the perceptions of all individuals involved. Thedifferent positions of the different parties involved should beclarified. After this, the assumptions, beliefs and facts underlyingeach position should be examined and analyzed. Time should be takenfor the different parties to understand each other’s positions.This will eventually help to reach an agreement. After resolving theconflict, strategies should be laid to prevent occurrence of conflictin the future (Rahim, 2011). This procedure was applied by ourleader, PhilopateerZaki-Azat, in solving the conflict that hadoccurred between Hiba and the rest of group members. After theprocess, everybody was satisfied that it was essential to for Hiba’sprivacy to be protected.
Self-servingvs. Group Interest (Social Dilemmas)
Socialdilemmas occur when an individual’s private interests are at oddswith collective interests. They occur when trying to prioritizeeither the long-term interests of a group to which an individualbelongs or short term private interests (Raines, 2012). Givingpriority to individual interests and relegating group’s interestsleads to a conflict with other members of the group. When such asituation occurs, other members of the group intervene to restoreorder and balance in the group (Raines, 2012). This is what happensin our group. Any member who deviates from the rules, values andnorms upheld in the group is summoned by other group members andasked to give priority to the group’s interests, unless there is asolid and convincing reason not to do so.
PersonalityQualities Relevant to Leadership
Thereare numerous qualities that are associated with good and relevantleadership. The various qualities are grouped in different profiles.The “Big Five Model of Personality” is one of the most commonpersonality profiles. The model categorizes profiles into dimensionsof conscientiousness, adjustment, openness, agreeableness andsurgency (Corey, 2011). Conscientiousness includes attributes thatare related to achievement. Individuals that are conscientiousnesshave strong desire for success, are hard working and contribute theirenergies beyond call of duty. Adjustment includes attributes that arerelated to emotional stability. Individuals strong in adjustmentportray traits such as having self control, being secure, calm andpositive and are able to withstand pressure (Corey, 2011). Opennessencompasses attributes related to being willing to gain experienceand to welcome changes. Such people are creative, free thinkers andrisk takers. Agreeableness, on the other hand, includes attributesthat enable leaders to get along with the subjects or group members.Such individuals are usually characterized as sociable, friendly,compassionate, easygoing and warm (Corey, 2011). Lastly, surgencyencompasses extraversion and leadership traits. Such people alwayswant to be in charge of leadership. During our research onpersonality traits, the scores for our group leader our leader,PhilopateerZaki-Azat, were openness (average) Extroversion (high)and conscientiousness (average). He scored high mark on neuroticism,a trait that characterized as a negative quality.
Taskvs. Relationship Leadership
Task-orientedleadership is a form of leadership that focuses on getting work done.As Daft (2014) explains, a task-oriented leader focuses on definingthe work to be done and defines the obligation of each member of agroup or team. The leader makes plans, puts all relevant structuresin place and monitors the work. Task-oriented leadership is quiteeffective when focusing on short-term tasks that have strictdeadlines. As well, task-oriented leadership is important whendealing with some routine and unskilled jobs (Daft, 2014).
Onthe other hand, relationship-oriented leadership focuses developinggood relationships and motivating the subjects or members of a groupor team. Relationship-oriented leaders lead by examples and act asmentors to their subjects. They arrange discussions with theirsubjects or group members and seek their opinions in all importantmatters. They then incorporate the opinions of the subordinates indecision making. They work to foster a positive working environmentand always try to make work enjoyable. Relationship-orientedleadership is important in cases where people are working in teams orin groups. Our group leader embraces relationship-orientedleadership. This kind of leadership helps to motivate group membersand to reduce conflicts between them.
Thereare various forms of leadership that have been identified bydifferent scholars, which can be applied in leading individuals in agroup. One of the most common leadership styles is transformationalleadership. Transformational leadership is a form of leadership inwhich a leader broadens and elevates the interests of the members ofa group or team (Mills,2007).Another common leadership style is charismatic leadership. This typeof leadership is almost similar to transformational leadership (Rost,2009).A charismatic leader is energetic and inspires enthusiasm among groupmembers. The third leadership style is transactional leadership.Transactional leaders give financial rewards for good performance anddeny rewards for lack of good performance. Another common leadershipstyle is democratic or participative leadership. In this form ofleadership, the leader of a group invites all members to makecontributions to decisions (Mills,2007).Thus, any decision made within a group is based on the opinions ofthe group members. Lazier-fare leadership is also a common leadershipstyle, whereby the leader leaves group members to work on their own. Bureaucratic leadership is a common leadership style but it does notwork well with groups. It involves protocols, rules and proceduresthat the subjects are required to follow (Rost,2009).The last form of leadership is autocratic leadership. In this form ofleadership, the leader has absolute powers over the group members.Our group leader embraces transformational leadership. He stimulatesgroup members to look beyond their own self interest and to focus onthe general interest of all members of the group. This form ofleadership has been effective in dealing with the group members fromdiverse backgrounds.
Inconclusion, there are various lessons that I have learned from theresearch as well as group’s experience. As indicated in theanalysis, group’s norms develop spontaneously base on experiences,culture, values and beliefs of the members. Although groups may beunique, they all undergo through the same stages of development.Communication networks are very important in enhancing the morale ofgroup members. There are different sources of conflicts that arecommon in small groups. Conflict management involves several stepsthat should be applied to conflict situations by group leaderscautiously. Social dilemmas lead to conflict between privateinterests and the interests of group members. Group members respondto situations where private interests override group’s interests.The personality traits relevant to leadership can be categorized intoconscientiousness, adjustment, openness, agreeableness and surgency.Task-oriented leadership is focuses on getting work done and iseffective when handling short or some routine tasks. On the otherhand, relationship-oriented leadership focuses developing goodrelationships with subordinates and is effective when dealing withgroups and teams. The most common forms of leadership includetransformational, democratic, Lazier-fare, autocratic, bureaucratic,charismatic and transactional leadership styles. Our group’sperformance can improve further if the leader learns to control hisnegative emotions. He scored a high mark on neuroticism. Also, ourperformance can increase if we all score high on important traitssuch as openness, agreeableness and conscientiousness. Some membersscored low marks on these traits. In addition, we should come up withstrategies that will help to avoid conflicts among the members in thefuture.
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