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close this bookTeacher Training: a Reference Manual (Peace Corps, 1986, 176 p.)
close this folderChapter 3 collaboration
close this folderCollaboration skills
View the document(introduction...)
View the documentOrganization
View the documentCommunication
View the documentFeedback/ critiquing
View the documentWorking in groups
View the documentLeadership
View the documentNetworking


Just as group dynamics are the results of process and task functions, so too are authority and leadership. The balancing of concern for task, or production, and concern for people may help to distinguish the authority figure or leader from other members of the group, but in reality these are simply another dimension of group membership.

The leader performs process and task functions like other members of a group. The biggest difference between leader and group member tends to be one of vision and the ability to keep the group on task in order to reach this vision. The role of "leader" often emerges from within the group and is characterized by the following functions:

° Managing anxiety and tension
° Managing the creative process
° Challenging the group
° Keeping the group on task
° Leading the group towards a particular vision

In other words, a good leader influences a group, but does not wield authoritarian power: the more a leader can encourage equal participation, the better 8 leader he/she is.

An authority figure is often imposed from without or established by consensus from within. The functions most often associated with this role are:

° Establishing lines of authority
° Keeping communications open
° Managing time and space
° "Protecting" the group

It is the task of the skillful collaborator to recognize the distinctions between these two roles and the times, within group development, that these roles are most crucial. In the earlier stages of group development, members tend to depend on authority figures quite heavily. It may be possible, after a time, to apportion the tasks associated with the authority figure to other members of the group and step back into the more guiding role of the leader. As group members feel more comfortable with their roles and the tasks at hand, they will become less dependent on any single individual (e.g. the leader) and more able to work democratically. Thus, the collaborator may need to accept the responsibility for authority or leadership in the early stages of group development, but the ultimate goal of any collaborative venture should be to share more and more of the responsibility and decision-making power with other group members.


Think of a time when you worked in a group, was there a noticeable leader? List the things that you think made him or her a good leader.