Interdependence Among Human Beings #2
Each member of a group comes with a personal history that is both factual and mythic. That is to say, s/he has participated in verifiable events and processes and has constructed a story about herself/himself in them. The constructed story supplies the spoken self-introduction and, typically, guides personal choice-making from moment to moment, as others introduce themselves and further reveal themselves in participation. Although the group holds attractions for all, the constructed stories vary greatly, as do the consequent and prioritized needs of each member. The dynamics are complex, indeed.
Replacing the likelihood of disintegration begins with individuals' recognition of the group's needs and proceeds with steady attention to them all. They are separate from, but certainly related to, the various needs of the members. If all members will agree to share responsibility for meeting the needs of the group, they can be reasonably certain of rewards of membership.
In Joining Together: Group Theory and Group Skills, David W. and Frank P. Johnson identified twenty functions of leadership, ten in each of two sets, that a group requires for effective operation. To the Johnsons, effective means
- reaches goals
- remains in good working order
- adapts to changes in the environment
Because of the counter-productive nature of domination (a shortcut to nowhere), so prevalent throughout human history and so likely to show up in groups of the kind addressed here, it is best when all members, not just one or a few, perform many of the functions, in turn/as needed. Plus, it's a lot for one or a pair to respect, remember and juggle; more hearts, minds and hands make it thoroughly feasible. The first set includes task functions and the second set include maintenance functions. For now, I'll simply list them:
|Task Functions||Maintenance Functions|
|Information & Opinion Giver||Encourager of Participation|
|Information & Opinion Seeker||Harmonizer & Compromiser|
|Direction Giver||Communication Helper|
|Summarizer||Evaluator of Emotional Climate|
|Reality Tester||Trust Builder|
|Evaluator||Interpersonal Problem Solver|
The discipline of limiting and eliminating domination, overt and covert, from group effort is key to group effectiveness and requires firm intention and conscious effort. Training is an appropriate beginning for both existing groups and individuals who will join groups.