Group cohesiveness and Leadership concepts in a Group

One way to understand what influences group performance is to gain the knowledge of factors that motivate or influence members to join and continue their existence in a group (Wendt, Euwema, & van Emmerik, 2009). Where a group provides members with needs they seek as individuals, then, group cohesiveness is likely to result. Group cohesiveness leads to individuals valuing their group membership hence remaining committed to establishing and sustaining favorable relations with other members (Wendt, Euwema, & van Emmerik, 2009). This could be out of interpersonal attraction, group pride, or task commitment that a group imposes on its individual members (Mullen & Copper, 1994). However, as Mullen and Copper (1994) note, performance that is derived out of group cohesiveness is mainly out of commitment to a task rather than group pride or interpersonal attractiveness of the group. Effects of cohesiveness are more pronounced in smaller groups compared to large groups (Mullen & Copper, 1994). Group cohesiveness, nevertheless, could be thought to aid in creating individual members’ identity in the group thus fostering a good working environment that is essential for the performance of the entire group (Wendt, Euwema, & van Emmerik, 2009).

Promoting group cohesiveness is thus important for the success of a group’s tasks. One of the ways through which group cohesion is promoted is by use of cooperation activities. This is exemplified by the organization of large groups (e.g. students in a class) into smaller groups that maximize each individual’s involvement in group tasks thus improving their skills and performance. High group cooperation leads to group members turning to one another for advice thus creating a harmonious work environment where members are comfortable with each other (Kratzer, Leenders, & van Engelen, 2004). Developing such cooperation could be through structuring group tasks into smaller related chores that give specific responsibility for individual members needed to complete the overall group task (Collazos et al. 2003). Through such responsibilities group members would encourage one another in the knowledge that each individual’s contribution is necessary to ensure the success of the entire group’s task – positive interdependence.

A second factor that affects the level of group cohesiveness relates to the type of leadership that the group is subjected to. Wendt, Euwema, and Van Emmerik (2009) for instance identify two types of group leadership that have opposite outcomes on group cohesiveness. One of the leadership styles identified is directive leadership where group leaders exhibit a “task-oriented behavior, with a strong focus on targets, close supervision and control of subordinate actions” (Wendt, Euwema, & van Emmerik, 2009, p. 359). Such a mode of leadership, especially that which is gravitated more towards an autocratic mode of supervision, is shown to have negative outcomes on group cohesiveness (Wendt, Euwema, & van Emmerik, 2009).

Secondly group leadership could be structured to offer supportive leadership which bears positive outcomes of promoting cohesiveness (Wendt, Euwema, & van Emmerik, 2009). Wendt, Euwema, and van Emmerik (2009) define supportive leadership as that which “is directed toward the satisfaction of subordinates’ needs and preferences, such as displaying concern for subordinates’ welfare and creating a friendly and psychologically supportive work environment” (p. 359). Such would for instance involve seeking of members views before decisions that affect their work relations such as transfer of members from one group to another are made. With such a leader’s concern for their followers needs, the subordinates develop a perception of fairness at the job hence are more committed to group tasks (Pillai & Williams, 2004). The mode of leadership adopted in a group is thus essential in determining whether members become more attracted to the group and its activities or not. Developing supportive leadership however could be problematic in a group setting. Such would for instance involve a shift of responsibility from an individual to a shared one, an aspect that might not be realizable where the rewards and benefit scheme is not pegged to the overall group outcome (The People Development Practice, 2008). Therefore, for a leader to emerge from a group setting there needs to have a shift of focus from individual performance to shared performance. Such a focus could be what makes teams perform better than groups in most instances.  got o part 6 here.

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