Posted by: Mike Plett | November 4, 2013

Group Alchemy

What makes one group work better than another? It appears to be some sort of group alchemy, by which common goals and interests — along with a dash of leadership — manage to fuse disparate personalities into a cohesive whole.

Leadership is often singled out as a determining factor in successful group dynamics, but this quality is just one of many. Like a recipe, you need all of these ingredients to succeed but the quality and amounts used will determine the finished product. There is no master recipe one can follow because there’s no telling exactly how the ingredients are going to react with each other.

For example, I’ve been a part of countless groups over the course of my life, and I can see how I’ve played various roles — such as information agent, elaborator, harmonizer, sensor, blocker and digresser — depending on the group dynamics. I rarely consciously chose which role I would play, and I know I often embodied multiple roles in one group. Which roles I assumed had their roots in my own psychology but, upon reflecting, the other personalities in the group had a huge influence on what I did. How this interdependency plays out and becomes synergy is mysterious.

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