JLBC CREATING EFFECTIVE TEAMS
Power, status, and communications structures are being clarified in this leadership process. Efforts to redistribute power begin to occur as well. These are all necessary for group progress.
During the first stage of group development, the role of the leader is the most differentiated and vital. Other functions are just being assigned. The leadership role is necessary to establish some sense of safety and order. In effect, the role of the leader and members’ reactions to that role is the impetus for the emergence of other functions and structures in the group. The prominence of the leader at Stage 1 and member dependence on the leader allow for initial arrangements to form. Once these are in place, the group can define its structure even further. A significant way that the group does this is by redefining the leader’s role and reducing, to some extent, the power associated with that role. This redistribution of power clears the way for other structures and functions to emerge.
So far, this seems like a reasonable and natural transition. However, leaders have used their power during Stage 1. The acquisition of power makes individuals want more energy, not less. Thus, the redistribution of power necessary for further group development is not an easy process. When leaders are met with resistance, their efforts to exert power and influence tend to increase, not decrease.
Three types of power have been described in the literature. There is power over, which is associated with dominance. Power is the ability to resist unwanted influence and demands. Power to, or empowerment, is the ability to act more freely through power-sharing. The strategies of power over and power from tend to negatively affect group relationships and goal achievement. Such leadership tactics often push others to attempt to take power from the leader, and conflict is the inevitable result. Leaders who employ power-to, or empowering, strategies facilitate group development since no leader can perform all the leadership functions alone. Redistribution of power is essential to enable group development and productivity.
Given the previous discussion, a group is not always successful in altering its perceptions of the leadership role or the leader’s perceptions. Also, even if the group’s perceptions change, the leader may force or coerce the group into continuing to respond as it did in Stage 1. Should the group fail to alter its perceptions, it will regress to the dependency stage of group development. Should the leader and group disagree about the leader’s role and be unable to resolve this contro- very, a prolonged fight for power and control is likely to occur.