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University Library, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

Illinois Leadership Competencies: Interpersonal/Team: Group Dynamics

Effective leadership requires working with and influencing others to achieve common goals and shared vision. Leaders need to develop skills for building personal, authentic, and productive relationships.

Group Dynamics

 A leader manages interpersonal conflict appropriately, and recognizes how relationships within groups change and accordingly adapts personal leadership style. 

Group dynamics refers to the attitudes and behaviors of a group. No two groups are alike, so it is up to the leader to adapt their personal leadership style to reflect the changes and relationships within each group. Effective and positive group dynamics are vital for any organization, and leaders who understand group behavior and structure can use this knowledge to create, guide, and manage cohesive and productive groups.  

These resources will give you an overview of group theory as well as the processes involved in group formation to group adjoining and everything in between.  

Books on Group Dynamics

Team Work With a Cause

In this short clip, Kevin James comically uses a biology metaphor to explain what happens when one cell becomes stagnant, or motionless.  He says this cell, "assumes the other cells are going to pick up the slack somewhere." But instead of picking up the slack, the other cells imitate the stagnant cell...and the organism begins to die. Groups work the same way. If a single person does not pull his or her weight, the rest of the team members will also not work as productively, and the group may dissolve, without ever having accomplished their task. When everyone works as a cohesive team, great things can be accomplished!     

Web Articles

These articles give a quick overview of the five stages of group development: forming, storming, norming, performing, and adjourning. They also discuss the different types of team members, including the joker, aggressor, etc., as well as other important aspects of group dynamics centered on the leader's role within a group. The "Group Dynamics" and "Transformational Leadership in Work Groups" articles also include a list of additional resources for a more in depth look at group dynamics.