Intragroup dynamics are important to maintain. When starting and/ or developing and maintaining an existing group, it is important to identify several key factors to increase group cohesion, and to keep your mission coherent and in view.
Identifying Common Goals and Experiences
Along the journey it is a good idea to assess and reassess the different stakes members have. Is your group composed of allies, the affected or lived group, or a mix? Acknowledging and navigating different identities within the group is important, as is discussing how identity will affect the group dynamics. Understanding our identities, and how they work in the spectrum of privilege and oppression, will help guide what actions the group should then undertake and what tasks and roles members should take on. It is important to critically examine our privileges so as not to replicate existing power structures within the group, and to make room for group members of marginalized identities to become empowered within the group and to lead and speak for themselves. We define this practice and outcome as collective liberation. Take steps to ensure that common goals and experiences are acknowledged, but not at the cost of erasing differing identities, ways of viewing, and ways of being.
If starting a group it is important to decide on leadership style. Will you work from a board structure? Rotating facilitation so everyone leads and develops those skills? Will the group elect officers or president/vice presidents? Decide how voting will work – will majority rule, or will you look for consensus in making decisions?
Another important part of developing the leadership within your group is to look at each member’s natural leading strengths and weaknesses. Use this worksheet to facilitate a meeting during which group members can identify their leadership style(s). Then, pair group members on opposite sides of the spectrum, in order to promote collaboration and learning between leadership styles. For example, how would a “straight” leadership style address an inter-organizational conflict? How does that approach compare with the “anchor” approach? What are the values and drawbacks of each style?
In building and maintaining a group or action, accessibility is also important. Can all current and future members get to the meeting place? Do the meeting times facilitate a wide range of members to be able to come? Do translators need to be present or nominated within the group? Work to make your group accessible proactively, not always reactively.