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Group Leadership Essay

What do we mean when we say “group leadership“? What is it exactly? There is not a dictionary definition that can explain or give meaning to the phrase. In order to really understand the phrase “group leadership”, we must separate it into two parts. We must define leadership. Then we must talk about group communication. What is leadership? Leadership is defined as a process of using communication to influence the behaviors and attitudes of others to meet group goals (Hackman and Johnson, 1991). Group communication is the interaction of a group of people to achieve an interdependent goal (Galanes, Brilhart, & Adams, 2000). So we can say that group leadership is using communication as the main tool to guiding and leading a group of people to accomplish interdependent goals. In order to get a greater comprehension of the subject, we must talk about two categories that relate to group leadership. They are the types of groups and the theoretical approaches to group leadership (Pearson, Nelson, Titsworth, & Harter, 2003). With a knowledge of these two aspects, we will better understand the group leadership concept. Lastly, we will describe how group leadership and the workplace coincide. In the workplace, you can find group leadership issues and problems. We will also discuss any examples and try to formulate possible solutions. The following paragraphs will take us right into types of groups and approaches to group leadership.

We all interact in groups either at work, home, or school. In these groups you can certainly find communication. We can categorize groups into four types. They are task-oriented, relationship oriented, assigned, and emergent. Task-oriented groups are formed to accomplish one time jobs. Relationship oriented groups are types where you are affiliated with people for long durations. An example of this is your daily work groups. Assigned groups are ones where the members have been appointed or selected to participate in them. An example may be a person chosen to serve on a community watch council. Lastly, an emergent group is one that results from environmental conditions that lead to a cohesive group of individuals. An example of this is a study group attending a college (Pearson, Nelson, Titsworth, & Harter, 2003).

Next, we must describe the theoretical approaches to group leadership. First, you have the style approach theory. It focuses on the pattern of behaviors that leaders exhibit in groups. There are 3 major styles of leadership. They are democratic, laissez-faire, and autocratic. Democratic leaders encourage members to participate in group decisions. Laissez-faire leaders take a less caring approach to holding group discussion. Autocratic leaders hold strict control over their group. They make all decisions and assign all tasks. Secondly, you have the contingency approach theory. It assumes group situations vary, with different situations requiring different leadership styles. Then you have the communication competencies approach theory. It focuses on the communicative behaviors of leaders as they exercise interpersonal influence to accomplish group goals. Lastly, the distributed leadership approach theory states that each member is expected to perform the communication behaviors needed to move the group toward its’ goal (Pearson, Nelson, Titworth, & Harter, 2003)

Everyone experiences some type of group leadership at their place of employment. Most people engage in some kind of work group on a daily basis. In the work environment, you can find different levels of employment that require its’ own distinct level of leadership. Within any organization, leadership begins at the top with either a president, CEO, or manager. This position is the head of the largest group, which is the company or business as a whole. There is a great deal of responsibility and obligation when running the daily operations of the company. So the responsibilities need to be dispersed among a group of leaders who can help to run the company effectively and efficiently. These leaders are now head of their own groups of people who need information to get their jobs done. Within these groups you will find the actual work groups. With effective group leadership, they can accomplish their required tasks, help to make decisions, and supply feedback. To help illustrate this concept in the workplace, I would like to use my place of employment as an example. I work in the aerospace industry and I work on military fighter aircraft everyday. At my level, I belong to the mass of the work group. We make up the largest number of employees at the site. We have different work centers that are responsible for a certain job process for the aircraft on the floor. I belong to the electrical work center. I am an electrical mechanic.

There are other work centers such as structural mechanics, engine mechanics, inspectors, materials, support equipment, tooling, electrical back shops (component wiring), and methods planning. These are all examples of daily work groups. Each one must communicate internally and then communicate externally with the other work centers. Each group has its’ own leadership in place to ensure things are moving forward and tasks are being accomplished. In my specific job, I work with a group of people that are responsible for the incorporation of new electrical systems in the airplane. We answer to an aircraft lead worker who is responsible for the entire flow of the aircraft while it is in production flow. We must communicate to that person to let them know what each person has accomplished everyday to stay current to the planning and budget. They in turn must answer to our supervisor. They must communicate the status of the aircraft and discuss any issues with parts and the time schedule. The supervisor then must report to the production floor manager the information that was received from the lead worker. The production floor manager then attends a meeting every morning to report the progress of all the aircraft on the production flow. At this stage in the communication cycle, he is now speaking with the leadership group. This is the group that is responsible for the financing, work recruitment, and site operation. In each of the groups leading up to the meeting, leadership within the groups allowed the information to make its’ way up to the upper management level. Without effective group leadership, the channel in which the information travels can be cut off and the business could fail. One issue of group leadership that does occur at my work place is the ever present lack of communication. I am not speaking of the everyday communication that you need to get your job done. I am talking about the “behind the scenes” communication that keeps the place running. We experience issues where special tooling is required to perform some of the work on the aircraft and its’ parts. The workers have repeatedly communicated this with their supervisors and left it at that. When the time comes and they need the tool, it is not on hand. Group leadership failed the workers who needed the tool.

Ultimately, the leadership is failing its’ customers. What needs to happen in this case is that the supervisors need to get together with its’ leadership and discuss the whole situation. They must be able to effectively relay their message and stress the importance of the need for the tool. They must find a way to communicate at their “level” so that they can see that there is a problem and it needs to be fixed. In this case, the supervisor is the leader of the group and it depends on how well he can communicate to this particular group in order to get the results that he needs.

The key to group leadership is communication. Leaders may use different styles of leadership to get people to work together for a common goal. Leaders do this without being aggressive or demanding. In order for a group of people to work together and achieve a desired task, good group leadership is a must.

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