October 4, 2018

Group Leadership 101: The Ultimate Survival Guide


As an effective leader, you’re expected to transform chaos into order while also keeping everybody happy. But that’s easier said than done, especially if you’ve been thrust into a leadership role for the first time. Even if this isn’t your first rodeo, successful leadership isn’t easy to pull off when you consider all the different personalities and opinions that can clash along the way. But if you have a solid game plan, leading a group can be an enriching experience. Using a combination of psychology, plus old-fashioned hard work and cooperation, we’ve got the essential blueprint for mastering the art of group leadership.

Know the Ropes

Having a clear expectation of the group event is an absolute must. In fact, it would be a huge benefit to have a power meeting before heading out on the trip or activity. This way you can establish your role as the pack leader while also reminding everyone to focus on the goals of the event. A meeting also gives you the opportunity to address any questions or concerns. Whatever your goals are, the top priority for any group is the safety and comfort of group members, so keep that in mind when you’re leading your team.

Share the Workload

For every accomplished person, there’s a dedicated team working behind the scenes to make it all come together. The same is also true with scenarios involving group leadership. The three-part divide and conquer algorithm approach used by software developers is a smart way to distribute work-related tasks among group members. First, divide the task at hand into subtasks or subgoals that are smaller instances of the main problem or goal. This will take some of the pressure off the pack leader while also making people feel useful and productive. Secondly, conquer the subtasks or subgoals by assigning them to the right members of your team. An effective way to gain trust and respect is by showing that you acknowledge the strengths of each member of the group. Finally, combine the solutions of the subproblem or sub goals into the solution for the original problem or goal. Remember: Micromanaging isn’t leadership, so try to avoid it. Instead, assign the task and trust that the qualified person can get the job done right.

Make them Laugh

Humor is a fun and effective way to bond with group, especially in high-stress situations. Anyone thrown into a leadership role knows the importance of laughter, including Eisenhower, one of the country’s most powerful leaders. His advice? “Always take your job seriously, never yourself.” Humor has a magical way of lightening the mood and keeping up morale, so if you get into a jam, admit your mistakes and make light of the situation. And trust us on this—your humility and sense of humor will be duly noted by team members, and that goes a long way when you’re leading a group.

Set a Good Example

Nobody’s perfect, including group leaders, but there’s nothing wrong with striving for greatness. When leading a group, remember that you’re in a position of authority, which means that the group is looking to you for guidance and support. This is your chance to shine, so make it count by setting a good example. When you’re in a leadership role, be confident in your abilities while also making group goals your main focus. This positive leadership style will help you gain the trust and loyalty of the team, and in group situations, building up social capital is essential for success.

Be Flexible with the Itinerary

You may have carefully mapped out every detail of your itinerary, but sometimes things don’t go as planned. But if you stay flexible with the plans, it shows your problem-solving skills and pragmatic approach to getting things done. When you solve problems quickly and efficiently, your group won’t have any doubts about your commitment as the leader of the event or activity. You never know when unexpected circumstances can throw you off schedule, which is why you should always have a solid back up plan. No matter what happens, the safety and comfort of everyone involved should always be the number one priority of a successful group leader.

Hone Your Time Management Skills

Being a group leader requires you to make quick decisions and snap judgments from moment to moment, which makes time management a major challenge. In order for things to run smoothly, try to “feed the eagles, not the turkeys.” In other words, try not to get bogged down in little details and instead, focus your energy on the tasks that can make your group really soar. Another big time-saver is chartering a bus. Instead of using taxis and rideshare services, keep it simple with a charter bus driven by a professionally trained driver. At Metropolitan Shuttle, we take the hassle out of travel arrangements by helping you coordinating the itinerary of your group. With an efficient schedule that meets your needs, you can focus on more important things, like bonding with group members.

Understand the Process of Group Formation

According to psychologist Bruce Tuckman, successful group formation happens in four steps: forming, storming, norming and performing. During the forming stage, some team members might be anxious if they are still unsure of the team expectations of the trip or event. Others members of the team may be positive and polite. These minor clashes then morph into the next stage, which is storming. As the pecking order is established, tensions may rise. Keep in mind that as a leader, you play a dominant role at this stage and can make the forming and storming stages proceed smoothly. Once the ice is broken and order is restored, the group enters the norming stage, where roles and responsibilities are established, and rapport is developed among group members. Finally, during the performing stage, goals can be accomplished as the group ascends to its highest level of teamwork and achievement.

The process of group leadership can be extremely rewarding for both the leaders and followers because of the opportunity to inspire greatness in others. As General Patton once said, “Never tell people how to do things. Tell them what to do, and they will surprise you with their ingenuity.” A great leader is also humble. “He who has learned to obey will know how to command,” as Solon put it. Great leaders can inspire great followers, who will in turn be inspired to do great work. Respect between leaders and followers is a two-way street, but once achieved, it can lead to innovation, creativity, and success for the group. In fact, as leadership expert Warren Bennis said, oftentimes the difference between a good leader and a great leader may come down to having a vision and being able to communicate that vision to the group to make it a reality.

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