4 Types of Group Dynamics

We all move in and out of groups: in the workplace, in our neighborhoods and in our leisure activities.  Most of the time we have a “pecking order.” Each of us knows what our relationship is to the others in the group.

Over the past few weeks, I was on a tour with a group of people who came together for the first time as a group.  Some members of this assemblage knew each other ahead of time, but the group took on a life of its own. With a majority of the mix being single women, and the minority portion being couples from the U.S. and Canada, the dynamics could have been dicey.  But they weren’t.

As the trip progressed, all of us remarked on how compatible we were, how much we were enjoying all the personality quirks in the group, and how much we laughed.  As each of us tried to explain the harmony and fun we were having, individuals offered their assessment for the group’s dynamics.

The comments started me thinking about group interaction.  I came up with four major categories:

1. Collection of individuals Some groups are simply individuals who are lumped together, but never coalesce.  They work individually and pool their input or output without much interaction.

2. Family In some groups, the members have such disparate personalities, interests or styles that they retain their individuality, but develop a bond, like a family.  When one member goes outside the norms, other member of the group might say “Oh, that’s just crazy Uncle Bob.”  There is an acceptance and an affection for the mavericks among the group.

3. Community In a group that acts like a community, everyone has a function.  There is the “go to” person, the intellectual, the social chairman, or whatever.  Everyone knows their role and relationship to one another.

4. Tribe This classic term has been used recently to indicate groups with a common culture or vernacular.  The perception is that a tribe is the most cohesive type of group.  There are roles, norms and social positions affecting how a tribe’s members interact and influence each other.

Where do your groups fall in this ranking?  Can you influence them to move along the continuum to more and more involvement and effectiveness?

Henrietta, top of the “pecking order” of the group: Red Sun Safari tour, with her caretaker Stewie.


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