BUS210 Study Guide

Unit 9: Group Communication, Teamwork, and Leadership

9a. Explain how interpersonal factors influence the evolutionary nature of groups

  • Discuss the role of communication in a group
  • Explain the different types of groups that can be formed

In any office setting, people may be placed in groups with different members for various projects. Each person comes to the group with their own set of characteristics, skills, and abilities. The need for cooperation is essential for group success, and members must learn to work together and share resources. When group members share information, the need to ensure that all members understand their jargon, terms, or any other language elements that might result in misunderstanding. Open communication can lead to group success.

Groups in the workplace may be formed by function, to complete a specific task, or to solve a problem. Once the group's goal has been completed, they may disband, form new groups with other employees, or come together later.

In addition to meeting organizational goals, groups meet our personal and professional needs, as well. Primary groups meet most of our needs, generally in a social or personal setting. Secondary groups, however, most often relate to our work groups, which identify our specific goals or responsibilities. While these groups can result in professional success, our personal happiness comes from the people in our primary groups who know us best.

For a more detailed review, read Group Communication, Teamwork, and Leadership.


9b. Categorize the types and roles of group members and contrast the typical stages in the life cycle of a group

  • Identify the members of a group and explain their roles
  • List and describe the stages of a group life cycle

Members of a group serve different roles during the life cycle of the group itself. Individuals may be evaluated for their potential to be part of the group; some members may be newer to the group than others, while some participants may be looked upon as leaders. As the group's task evolves, so do the group members. Some members may even leave the group when their specific task has been completed. In any group, there may be members who positively influence the group's abilities to accomplish their tasks, while others may be a negative influence. Think about a group in which you participated. What role did you play in accomplishing the group's goals? How did other people behave within the group, and how did that impact the group's ability to successfully meet their goals? Consider how your role changed as the project progressed.

When it is determined that a group is needed to accomplish a specific task or goal, it is understood that the group will go through an expected series of steps in its formation and development. These steps include: forming, storming, norming, performing, and adjourning. Think about a group situation in which you have participated. Can you identify the point at which each of these stages occurred?

For a more detailed review, read Group Life Cycles and Member Roles.


9c. Describe the seven steps for group problem-solving

  • Apply the steps for group problem solving to an experience of your own

Whether personal or professional, problems will arise at various points in our lives. In the workplace, groups are formed to resolve these problems. Also, in the formation and development of a group, problems can arise during the overall process. To enable groups to operate at their best, several steps have been proven to enable a group to complete their task with the least conflict or controversy.

These steps are:

  1. Define the problem
  2. Analyze the problem
  3. Establish criteria
  4. Consider possible solutions
  5. Decide on a solution
  6. Implement the solution
  7. Follow up on the solution

Take a situation in which you have been part of a group and identify how they applied each of these steps. Consider areas where problems arose and how the group addressed them.

For a review of each of these items and how groups can be successful, read Group Problem-Solving.


9d. Apply the basic principles of organizational communications to conduct effective meetings

  • Discuss the tasks needed to prepare for a meeting
  • Consider a recent meeting you have attended and how well the meeting was conducted

When planning a meeting, the first step is to identify the goal and what is expected to be accomplished. Plan ahead, whenever possible, and give attendees sufficient time to prepare for their roles at the meeting. Recognize that people may not be available to attend a meeting that is planned at the last minute. Determine where and when the meeting is to take place, identify the required attendees, prepare an agenda, and plan for any technology that might be required. Send invitations to those who are invited to the meeting and tabulate responses.

Now that the planning stage for a meeting has been completed, it is important to conduct the meeting effectively.

The steps for conducting an effective meeting include:

  • Arriving on time and stay until the meeting concludes
  • Leaving the meeting only for designated breaks or unplanned crises
  • Being prepared (see earlier comments about pre-meeting tasks)
  • Turning off all unnecessary technology such as phones and other digital devices
  • Following protocol and rules of conducts
  • Observing stated time limitations
  • Being professional in all interactions and communications
  • Staying engaged and interested
  • Staying focused and on task
  • Respecting the personal space of others
  • Cleaning up your space
  • Engaging in conversation at the end of the meeting

Additionally, the meeting leader may be required to facilitate the discussion, address conflict, and help the group stay on-topic. Following the agenda can help with this last task and help the meeting keep to the designated time parameters.

If any technology is used as part of the meeting, ensure that the equipment is in working order by testing it before the meeting.

For a more detailed review, read Business and Professional Meetings.


9e. Distinguish between different leadership styles and how they affect group dynamics

  • Discuss the different methods by which individuals become group leaders
  • Identify five types of leaders and describe how they interact with group members

Leaders take on their roles by being appointed, elected, or emerging into the role. The group members play an important role in this process. The appointed leader is designated by someone in authority and does not consider the group's feelings or opinions. A leader who has been chosen by a group is known as a democratic leader. The person will include other members in the group process and take ownership of the group's decisions.

An emergent leader may grow into the role, either out of necessity or because of this person's seniority or skill set. This leader may be designated if a democratic leader does not perform to expectations.

There are many ways in which a leader can have an impact on a group. The style of the leader sets the tone, with group members reacting and responding to this approach. Some of the styles of leadership include:

  • The autocratic leader
  • The laissez-faire leader
  • The leader-as-technician
  • The leader-as-conductor
  • The leader-as-coach

Consider leaders with whom you have worked. Which of the above styles did they adopt? Did their leadership style vary in different situations? If you are a leader or have been a leader in the past, which describes your own leadership style?

For a more detailed review, read Teamwork and Leadership.


Unit 9 Vocabulary

This vocabulary list includes terms that might help you with the review items above and some terms you should be familiar with to be successful in completing the final exam for the course.

Try to think of the reason why each term is included.

  • Group communication
  • Types of groups
  • Primary groups
  • Secondary groups
  • Group member roles
  • Group life cycles
  • Forming
  • Storming
  • Norming
  • Performing
  • Adjourning
  • Group problem-solving
  • Effective meetings
  • Leadership attainment
  • Autocratic leaders
  • Laissez-faire leaders
  • Leader-as-technician
  • Leader-as-conductor
  • Leader-as-coach