Page 40 - Student Organizations Manual

this role is defined essentially in terms of power or the ability to influence others. A
leader in one group may not emerge as the leader in another group. As membership
changes, the leader many change, or, if the purpose or activities change, the leader may
then change, too. Leadership implies followership. One person exerts influence or so-
cial power and others are influenced.
Group task roles.
Members shouldhelp thegroup select anddefine commongoals and
work toward accomplishing them.
Suppose representatives of the school and community groups decide to work together
to “Do something about the drug program.” Members whose actions would be cate-
gorized in the task realmwould “initiate” discussion of what could be done, or how the
problemmay be approached, or they may give new ideas for getting students involved.
Someone may offer “information” on what other groups in the city are doing and what
official agencies are available for further help. Another may offer his “opinions” on the
subject. Others may elaborate from their experience or reading.
With this variety of opinions and suggestions, some can “coordinate” or clarify the
various suggestions in terms of which are appropriate for this group to work on and
which are more appropriate from other groups. One person may summarize what has
happened, perhaps point out deviations from the original goals, and raise questions as
to whether the group can proceed as suggested or whether the group lacks the re-
sources needed. (This person would be “orienting” the group.) There may be “critics”
who question the facts or the effectiveness of the group. An “energizer” or “sensor”
who knows where materials on drugs may be obtained inexpensively; he may have
access to a means of distributing leaflets or a speaker who could help clarify some of
the technical questions. A “recorder” may be writing down suggestions, or making a
record of group decisions on what has been assigned for the next meeting.
Groupmaintenance roles.
While task roles focus on the problem-solving aspects
of moving toward a goal, equally important, but at a different level, are the roles ex-
hibited by the personal relations among group members.
At a meeting, members may sound as if they are giving information or opinions, or
evaluating ideas. Frequently, the members may even attack one another on a personal
level. A newcomer to the group may feel intimidated by this and be reluctant to pres-
ent an idea. He may even reevaluate his status as to whether it is worthwhile to re-
main in the group. It is important for the “encouragers” and the “supporters” in the
group to see that this does not happen. Other roles seen in the group maintenance sit-
uation are the “harmonizers” who attempt to mediate differences or relieve tension
with a joke and the “gatekeepers” who notice whether or not everyone has had an
opportunity to speak. These roles help a group maintain itself so that work on the task
can proceed without interference.
Individual roles.
Another set of roles is identified through members’ individual
needs. These needs are irrelevant to the group goals and are not conducive to helping
the group work as a unit. An attack on one person leads to personal defense, joke
telling may start “I can top that” jokes, and soon the goals of the group are forgotten
as individuals attempt to satisfy individual needs.
In individual roles, we will find the “aggressor” giving a sarcastic opinion. The
blocker” saying the committee is useless unless they reach their goals, the “self-con-
fessor” looking for sympathy, the “recognition-seeker” describing in glowing details
how successful they have been, and the “dominator” attempting to take over by inter-
rupting others, using flattery, or asserting a superior status. Of curse, there are a few
who may be “feelers” who base decisions on emotional highs and lows. A fewmay
be “playboys” (or girls) who joke, keep bringing up unrelated subjects, or who have a
conspicuous lack of interest in the real meeting. Are any of these people more or less
valuable than the other? No! It is important to remember that each is valuable and
can add to the direction of the group. Both task and maintenance roles are needed by
the group.
Everyone who has ever led a committee has experienced the frustrations of trying to
lead a group. We start off with a clear agenda, but time is always too short. How do
you get the job done? First, recognize that there are two agendas:
Task—what is to be accomplished?
Needs—of the individual group members.
To accomplish anything, both these agendas must be met. Most groups think that they
already know each other’s needs and tasks. As a result, many groups plod on, mangle
relationships, and blunder assignments.
Many groups operate using majority rule. Often, this results in the majority doing the
project with a minority having far less enthusiasm for the task. It’s better to develop a
decision by consensus. This may force some to compromise, but the task will have
group ownership.” Then, develop good listening skills among group members. There
are a lot of good ideas in groups that are never spoken because people feel no one is
willing to really listen!
As a leader, periodically ask yourself these questions:
Does my group have a regular assigned meeting time?
Do we honor the commitment to meet?
Are people in the group made to feel worthwhile?
Do you practice consensus decision making?
Do you evaluate and hold each other accountable?
If the answer to any of these questions is “no” your group is in trouble and needs to
be reevaluated. If the answers were “yes,” your group is probably okay. All you need
is periodic fine-tuning. The best groups are those whose members meet regularly,
hold each other accountable, have a steady membership, feel ownership for assigned
tasks, and care about each other.
Make the members in your group want to do things (inspiration, incentive, recog-
nition) and determine what make each of them tick.
Be A Good Listener.
Criticize and approve constructively.
Criticize in private.
Praise in Public.
Be Considerate.
Delegate Responsibility for details to members.
Give credit where it is due honestly.
Avoid domination or forcefulness.
Show interest in and appreciation for the other person.
Make Your Wishes known by suggestions or requests.
When you make a request or suggestion, be sure to explain the reasons for it.
Let the members in on your plans and programs, even when plans are at an early