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 How to Effectively Lead Groups

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PostSubject: How to Effectively Lead Groups   14/11/2010, 9:10 pm

How to Effectively Lead Groups

Leading a group of people can oftenbe a tiresome, thankless job (akin to herding cats) and yet, many find theexperience to be completely rewarding. Satisfaction is directly related to howwell-functioning the group is. How to get a group of people to work together isboth an art and a science. Volumes have been filled on numerous theories on howto make group more effective but mostly from a business context.
Outside of work life, groups form animportant part of most everyone’s life. People are a part of at least severalgroups and they include a wide diversity of interests including: recreationalsports teams, hobby groups, faith-based prayer groups, volunteering and charityorganizations, playgroups. Groups form as long as there is a common interest. There’soften no boss to force people to participate in a group and so that leaves theleader to use more “carrot” than “stick” methods. We’ll outline some of thebest advice on how to get groups in your own personal life to function better.Steps

1. 1Understandthe motivations. Don’t assume you know what people want. You really have tounderstand why they are participating and what they hope to get out of it. Ifyou have good alignment amongst the members, then members will be motivated toparticipate. For example, you may have some people on a sports team who want towin the league championship and others who just want to learn. The best thingto do is to spend time with each member, ask open-ended questions and listen.
2. 2Crafta good set of goals. Once you understand what people want to get out oftheir experience in the group, it’s best to set up the goals that the group canlargely agree on. Once the goals are established you can set up a great set ofactivities to support the goals. For example, a playgroup may have many differentpossible goals – perhaps the playgroup wants the kids to just focus onsocializing. Others may want to have more of a religious-based instruction.Others may want to focus on learning a 2nd language. You may be surprised onhow difficult this can be. Work together with your fellow members and agree ona good set of clear goals.
3. 3Plan somegreat activities. Once thegoals have been agreed upon, brainstorm with the group to find a great set ofactivities to accomplish your goals. The best ideas rarely come from oneindividual – solicit opinions from group members, people from similar groupsand from the Web. Think outside the box but also learn from the backs ofothers. Putting together a good schedule of activities will help make the groupexcited and engaged.
4. 4Keepeveryone on the same page. Groups can quickly dissolve from lack ofactivity and communication. When it comes to people’s increasingly busyschedules, their personal lives often take a back seat to that urgent thingthat regularly pop up. Direct and indirect communication is key to maintainingcohesion in the group, particularly as everybody has their own time and.Regular get-together and meetings can help strengthen emotional bonds withinthe group. Setting up a group web page and group email is a great way to helpprovide indirect cohesion across time and space. For instance, using solutionslike Qlubb enable apeople to check the group calendar at any time and to volunteer on the sign upsheet at any hour. Setting up a central website and group email help provideneeded communication infrastructure for the group for direct and indirectcommunication.
5. 5Delegate, delegate, delegate. Nothingmakes members feel more involved in the group than when they take ownership.When leaders delegate they not only reduce their workload, but also get muchneeded “buy-in” from people who are involved in the process. When there areproblems, don’t think you have to solve them yourself. Sometimes the criticsare the best people to address the problems they are bringing up. Wherepossible, get volunteers and let them take responsibility for important thingsthat make a difference.
6. 6Leadby example. Again, there are tomes written on leadership and no one articlecan summarize what it takes to be a leader. Pick the leadership style thatworks best for the group. Every group is different and has different leadershiprequirements. Beware of being the micro manager who must control everything. Bewary also be being so slack as to be irresponsible or lazy. Almost universally,good leaders lead by example, solicit ideas from everybody, listen carefullybefore acting, invest some time thinking a few steps ahead, and mostimportantly, trust their members.Tips

  • Be a benevolent dictator - make executive decisions when stalemate occurs, but always listen to multiple views. Make your decision-making process as transparent as possible.
  • Keep communication transparent - be organized. Nothing is worse than a leader that is scattered brained. Keep the online group site up to date with dates, events, expectations, and task assignments.
  • Give people responsibilities - and don't micro-manage. Make people accountable but give them the space to take on the job. Don't nit-pick, it really doesn't matter in the end what color the paper napkins were.
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