The Development and Sustainability of Group Cohesion

It is important to realize that in all aspects of life, especially the workplace, a person needs to encompass the dualities of professionalism and emotionalism in order to be a successful leader and promote group cohesiveness. Due to the relative traditionalism associated with the application of professionalism, this essay will deal mostly with the recent addition of emotionalism as an important factor in determining the type of leadership style necessary in developing group cohesiveness.

Emotions are an essential and unavoidable element of organizational life. Despite the fact that members in organizations experience emotions in many different forms, researchers have often failed to study the effects of emotion in the workplace. This new development in organizational behavior suggests that these types of considerations should be discussed and investigated further when evaluating different approaches to the development of group cohesiveness.

Developing a strategy for the development of group cohesiveness is dependent upon many different factors. Group dynamics are influenced by distinctiveness from the organization as a whole, and also in the composition and development of the particular group structure involved. Once isolated, this group structure may present other barriers to the development of effective group cohesiveness such as intra- and inter-group conflicts that arise from the particular merit system established within the group.

For example, if group members are “not evaluated on a per/team basis,” members may develop unhealthy competitiveness within the individual group itself (Briggins 81). One inherent paradox within most group structures is the need for trust to exist before trust can develop. This adds difficulty to establishing group cohesiveness within any group, no matter the form. An example of a loss in group cohesiveness from external group conflicts may arise when there is a lack of distinction between the evaluation of each particular group, with the result of tension being established.

Tensions are often fuelled by affective or expressive concerns that have little to do with instrumental or task-focused concerns, and minor disagreements can therefore, quickly escalate into major conflicts with group members polarized into different rival camps. Due to the many potential problems of group dynamics, the considerations involved in developing group cohesiveness take on a different appearance than traditional management decision-making processes.

Some of the key considerations one must investigate when discussing the phenomenon of group cohesiveness deal exclusively with the recognition of the different aspects of emotionalism. Many times researchers assume that emotionality and rationality are antithetical, and thus, in the rationally based world of modern management, CEO”s ignore emotional concerns when establishing group standards and leadership.

Due to this type of belief, when evaluating group cohesiveness, no normalization or recommendation has generally been given to group leaders in the evaluation of and interaction with the emotions of the group members (Carr 48). In actuality, emotionality and rationality have been found to be interpenetrated and interdependent, because emotions, as well as rational thought (one would hope), are involved in every group decision making process.

The concept of “cohesiveness” itself is defined as “the attractiveness of a group to its members, highlighting the affective bond between individuals”(Pettit 13). Thus in order for management to develop a consistent policy for the development of group cohesiveness, emotionality must be considered as well as the aforementioned possible difficulties which may arise out of the different forms of groups and the group dynamics associated with each form. There are many possible costs and benefits involved in the development and support of group cohesiveness within any organization.

One important consideration that may lead to both benefits and downfalls in the development of group cohesiveness is emotional contagion. Emotional contagion is the tendency for a member of a group to mimic another group member”s emotional experience/expression and thus to experience/express the same emotions his or herself. Emotional contagion underlies such phrases as “team spirit” and “electricity in the air”, and it is the same reason why teammates tend to cheer and clap during sporting events in order to “root teammates on” (Frisch 16).

Emotional contagion can be a very constructive or destructive force in organizations. On the positive side, contagion may increase empathy and solidarity, creating a cohesive group. This contagion can be mobilized in the pursuit of organizational goals. It has even been supposed that the interaction and sharing of emotions promote group cohesiveness to the extent that they develop a kind of “group mind”.

On the negative side, though, contagion can also impair performance. It may cause negative emotions such as fear and anxiety to quickly pervade the entire group, and in turn the entire organization. This often results in infighting and factionalism. There are many factors essential to the CEO in the development and sustainability of group cohesiveness. One must evaluate the different dynamical group constructs in order to prevent intra- and inter-group conflicts.

It is also essential for any leader of any organization to recognize the emergence of emotionalism as a major factor in the evaluation and implementation of any plan for group cohesiveness. The final and perhaps most important consideration the CEO must undertake, is the evaluation of the impact of emotional contagion and what means may be implemented to help develop effectively transformational leadership processes for the groups in the organization. All of these considerations should help the CEO to establish and sustain group cohesiveness within the entire organization.

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