Empowerment Leadership Model for Small Groups, Teams, & Families
Course One, Lesson 6
Stimulate Interaction and Synergy for
Maximum Group, Team and Family Functioning
Note: Whenever "group" or "team" is used, it can mean "group", "team", or "family".
Interactions that encourage more combined efforts bring synergy and great power to a group, team or family.
The skillful group or team leader must help the group or team develop interdependent synergy. Since this kind of interaction seldom occurs, its value is not missed and people are often frustrated with the teams and groups in which they participate. But, if the leader keeps in mind to help the group draw out maximum contribution from its members, one interaction will lead to a surprisingly appropriate second interaction and so forth, bringing tremendous results.
As an athletic team works hard to develop more skills, the best teams and groups work to become more synergistic. They develop more and more interactions that are not just back-and-forth between two individuals. Team members begin to increasingly draw others into the action.
Using athletics to illustrate levels of synergy, a bowling team has a little synergy when members offer advice and encouragement. A volleyball team has plays where up to three people interact to get the ball across the net. But maybe the finest example is a complicated basketball play where players move purposefully to set up the play and the ball is passed ten times to sink the basket.
One of the best examples of this is when a group member who has nothing to offer the current discussion asks someone who probably has something to contribute to speak up. Another good example is when two people in the group are not understanding one another or locked in disagreement. Some group members step in to say what is being said in a different way to aid understanding. Someone may take the side of a group member who seems outnumbered to assure that his or her view is at least acknowledged and considered. And closer friends of the combatants lend support and then encourage their respective friends to drop any animosity.
Such behaviors do not easily come into being. It takes skillful group leadership to help the group arrive at such synergistic and high-level functioning. Whenever the leader suspects there is latent talent, he or she can simply explain that the group needs to pull out contributions, ideas, and skills from its members.
RESIDENTIAL TREATMENT PROGRAM GROUP APPLICATION
During a group meeting of a residential program, the leader gives the group the task of helping a new resident named Jimmy become less disruptive. Then the group counselor helps the group marshal all of its resources, but not by telling them what to do.
For example, there is a youngster in the group who was similarly disruptive when he entered the program. Since the counselor is not solving the problem, but helping the group to do so for the growth of its members and the group itself, he or she might need to comment, "If the group has any members who had trouble pulling their behavior in line when they first came here, the group needs to get those people helping Jimmy know how to do it." Then the counselor sits back and starts to see the beginning of synergy as one youngster encourages another to get into the action of helping.
A parent during a family meeting, noting that a son or daughter who could give some advice to a sibling is not speaking, asks that child to help out. A son encourages a brother to speak to a sister about something, because that brother is older and his opinion will be more respected.
TEAM LEADERSHIP APPLICATION
A team member, knowing that someone is struggling with a responsibility and also knowing someone better at that skill than himself, asks the more skilled person to help the first person.
GROUP THERAPY APPLICATION
Remember the story of "David Under the Desk"? If not, go back to Lesson One and read it again. It is loaded with synergistic behavior by that group of dysfunctional boys.
Do you want to go on to Course Two and learn about the characteristics of a strong, healthy group, team or family? These are the things a successful group leader concentrates on and helps the group develop.