Understanding Group Dynamics!

What type of group do you think would be the most challenging to lead and why?

Published on:
·4 min read
Categories: Life Coaching, Culture

Having reviewed this week’s readings, I have come to the conclusion that leading growth and experiential groups could present the most leadership challenges.

My reasons for arriving at this conclusion are manifold. First, leading this type of group not only hinges heavily on one’s core values and beliefs, but also one’s ability to not impose one’s values and beliefs on the other members of the group. According to Jacobs, Masson, Harvill and Schimmel (2012), “groups whose purpose is values clarification or self-exploration, the most important dynamic is how the members feel about one another, because they will be sharing their thoughts and feelings” (p. 42). Implicit in these requirements is the need for the leader to clearly demonstrate competence and ability in both interpersonal and intrapersonal communication, whilst simultaneously building trust, openness and camaraderie.

A second major leadership challenge is presented in the leader’s ability to correctly assesse and optimize each member’s growth potential, while seeking to reduce over-competitiveness and jealousy.

Jacobs et al. (2012) in reference to growth and experiential groups note, “Members might become jealous of other members’ growth or become angry with the leader “(p. 42). Also, “competition among members may arise and can be a detrimental dynamic” (p. 43). At the corpus of such tensions is the astronomical challenge to achieve team building and cooperation. In other words, the leader must exhibit superior visionary skills, motivational gifting, discernment, team-building, and conflict management ability.

Personal growth and development are often linked with effective team-building and purposeful cooperation. In this regard, a third major leadership challenge is presented in explicating the group’s “clarity of purpose” (p. 47) and “relevance of purpose” (p. 47).

Given the fact that any group’s purpose is directly linked to the achievement of positive therapeutic forces, it becomes incumbent on the leader to minimize negative therapeutic forces. So, why should this present such a formidable challenge? Jacobs et al. (2012) provides the answer, “In some growth and experiential groups, individual member’s needs and expectations can vary so widely that negative forces are created” (p. 47). In other words, individuals’ self-concept and temperaments vary considerably. In conclusion, the leadership challenges outlined above are by no means exhaustive; however, they provide clearly defined challenges that are associated specifically with growth and experiential groups.


Jacobs, E. E., Masson, R. L., Harvill, R. L., & Schimmel, C. J. (2012). Group counseling strategies and skills. (7th ed.). Belmont: Brooks/Cole.