Empowerment Leadership Model for Small Groups, Teams, & Families
Course Two, Lesson 8
Learning the Strengths and Weaknesses of Group Members
& Tapping the Strengths of Members
what the group does to get started working on its purpose correctly
Note: Whenever "group" or "team" is used, it can mean "group", "team", or "family".
Knowing Strengths & Weaknesses
Discovering and remembering the strengths and weaknesses of all group members as well as the group’s strengths and weaknesses is the fifth subtask of the general task of getting started working on the group purpose. The group does this to be able to utilize strengths and help out with weaknesses whenever necessary.
Every group member as well as the group itself has strengths and weaknesses. The successful group knows what these are through instinct as well as examination and discussion. This does not happen all at once. More natural is the process of discovering strengths and weaknesses as things come up for the group to deal with, do, plan or whatever. The key here is that the group and its members must remember what they learn about each group member. You as the group leader might have to point this out a few times.
In a therapy group, it would be very important to know that a particular man seems to struggle to understand the emotional responses of group members. Tucked away, that information might prove critical if and when he ever has a conflict to resolve with his wife or children, for example. And, the successful group will remember who is best at explaining emotional content whenever this man does not understand another group member's statements.
The group itself should also learn its own (the group's) strengths and weaknesses. For example, a therapy group might be very good at showing emotional support but not yet expect itself to come up with solutions to the problems presented. Or a group might be weak at getting started on time, but strong in keeping focused on the purpose of getting together.
Tapping the Strength of All Members
The subtask of knowing strengths and weaknesses leads to the subtask of significantly tapping the strengths of all members as required for maximum accomplishment of the group’s purpose.
The diligent group leader will want to constantly consider silently whether or not the group is using all of its member’s strengths for pursuit of the group purpose. In remembering to give just as much of the work of thinking and feeling and doing to the group as can be left for them to independently accept, the leader might merely say to the group from time to time, “It doesn’t seem to me that you are using all of the strengths available for this task you are doing.” If, after some serious thought, and perhaps a few hints from you, they still don’t see what you see, then tell them. But don’t be drug into doing their thinking for them in the future just because you helped them out here.
From time to time a group member will have to perform in an area of weakness. The successful group does not stand back and watch the person fail, but, as necessary, acts as a safety net and a coach. From time to time the group might have to also step in and do more than coach, but the rule about not doing something another can do applies here as well. The sharp group will coach and bail out the person instead of stepping in and taking control if there is good indication that the person will be able to break into his or her own success, even in the area of a weakness.
Next, let's consider how the group must help its members behave in line with working on the group purpose.