- Dilemma of Commitment: External Needs vs. own needs
- Dilemma of Authority: Dependence vs. Counterdependence
- Dilemma of Trust: Support vs. Challenge
- Dilemma of Intimacy: Differentiation/Self-sufficiency vs. Connection/symbiosis
- Dilemma of Creative Destruction: Novelty vs. Continuity
- Dilemma of Ending: Holding on vs. Letting Go
- To what extent are members willing to submit to externally imposed goals/needs for the formal task of the group?
- To what extent are members focused on their personal needs, sharing personal circumstances, getting their personal learning goals met?
- Does the group exist for the members or do the members exist for the group?
- How much am I willing to give in relation to how much I expect to receive from my membership in this group?
- How can I invest in or commit to a group before I know what it will be like?
- How will this become a group worthy of commitment unless members do take risks to commit and invest?
- The primal fear is loss of identity/fusion
|Pitfalls that lead to avoiding commitment|
|Group gets stuck on external needs
||Group gets stuck on personal needs
|Choosing external needs avoids the reality that the group consists of people with differing needs.||Choosing personal needs avoids / denies the possibility of a common goal.|
|Reframe: The group needs to discover how individual needs and identity can be sustained in relation to a common goal.||Reframe: Individuals need to discover how commitment to a shared undertaking supports their individual identity and capacity to get their needs met.|
This dilemma splits into two subsets:
|Law & Order vs. Freedom & Chaos(Juypers, Davies, & Hazewinkel, 1986)||Initiating Leadership vs. Abdicating
Leadership(Smith and Berg, 1988)
|Focus on rules, order, procedures, norms, the role
of the leader, processes put in place. Dependents:* Members engage in security seeking behavior by searching for common goals* Seeking involvement and protection of the group leader* activities geared to obtaining approval of authority.
|Focus on rejecting the formal or informal leader roles, testing the boundaries, rejecting anything that looks like conformity or compliance Counter-dependents:reject authorityReject leadership initiatives of othersSupport absolute freedom and autonomy||Leadership struggles because power is seen as a zero-sum game. If I am powerful or leading, others are not. If others are powerful and leading, I am not.|
|Reframe: Freedom depends on structure, and structure flexes to permit freedom.||Reframe: the ways in which authorizing myself to act on behalf of others authorizes the group, and the ways in which authorizing someone else to act on my behalf authorizes me.One can take power in ways that empower others — and honoring leadership of another person in the group can support personal authority|
|The primary issue in this dilemma is around shared leadership and interdependence. The primal fear common to both groups is helplessness.||We must embrace our dependence on others in order to truly become interdependent. the key is in finding ways to become dependable to one another.|
Before trusting the group, individuals want to know that the group will accept them with all their warts, faults, fears & hopes, ugliness and beauty, skill and incompetence. Groups want to trust that members will stick by the group in good times and in bad. But how can trust emerge unless members are willing to trust enough to reveal their vulnerabilities? Part of this dilemma of feedback in group — from groups to individuals and individuals to the group. The dilemma is that support (the “appreciative eye“) is necessary in order to provide safe ground fro growth and learning. But challenge (the “critical eye“) is necessary for corrective feedback to provide a basis for trust.
Our expectations that others should confirm our self-worth and provide us with a sense of safety as a condition for our trust contributes to this dilemma. The primal fear is that we are truly worthless, and our hope is that others will help us feel worthy. Members must be able to support their own sense of personal safety and self-worth, regardless of whether they experience the group as accepting or rejecting of them. while there are no guarantees, when one is able to hold oneself as safe, processes of trusting can sometimes emerge in the group.
At a group level, the group needs to trust that members will support the group. the group needs to hear potentially negative feedback, but when it is offered, it is likely to be met with anxiety and defensiveness. A group’s inability to hear disconfirming feedback reflects some source of anxiety, potentially about an adaptive challenge it is avoiding. Trust results when honest feedback, both to members and to the group, can be given.
(Juypers, Davies, & Hazewinkel, 1986)
|Differentiation / Self Sufficiency||Connection / symbiosis|
|Establishing our unique and meaningful identity by demonstrating who we are different from one another. Counterpersonals (Bennis& Sheppard):emphasize difference and my ignore points of similarity or connection — anxiety about “sacrificing identity” and preserving self esteem leads them to limit or resist commitment to other members.||Affirming the ways in which we are similar and integrate to one another.Overpersonals: (Bennis& Sheppard):may designate others the same regardless of interpersonal issues and conflicts in order to preserve harmony and mutual acceptance. They seek to preserve self-esteem by demanding unconditional love as a condition for their involvement.|
Differences between members in the amount of intimacy desired with others in the group.
cf.: Self Differentiation vs. Relationship Orientation
cf.: FIRO-B (Schults)Both groups share a primal fear that “Intimacy breeds contempt” — that if “Others really knew me, they would reject me.”
|Reframe the way acceptance and rejection are linked. neither the focus on unconditional love and preservation of harmony, nor the withholding of self from the group will support genuine group intimacy. Indeed, both of these may create a self-fulfilling prophecy in which members experience themselves as abandoned or rejected by the group. Paradoxically, revealing one’s feelings of attraction to or rejection of others in the group can lead to increased levels of intimacy in the group.|
In order to create something new, it is usually true that something has to be destroyed. This is true of individual learning which is transformational. Much incremental learning can occur by rearranging rather than destroying. But transformational change requires disassembly of structures created in the past. This is also true of transitions within the group — transitions between phases of group development for example.
Every choice to do something or become anything means giving up options to become something different. Creativity and change threatens to destroy the order or stability of structures that have come before; the creative individual who orients to novelty and change may be scapegoated by the group — or elevated to heroic proportions. it is important to pay attention to how the group splits between positive or negative order-disturbers — managed as though novelty and continuity are oppositional rather than related (and this is the reframing opportunity). Resistance implies acceptance, and acceptance requires honoring resistance when it occurs.
At the end of the group, the principle issue is the meaning that the group has had for its members. The tension is between those in the group who want to engage in retrospective sense-making (the past) vs. those who want to engage in prospective sense-making (the future). Those in the retrospective end want to look back at what they have valued and learned from the group. Those on the prospective end are letting go and moving on with abandon — “Get the hell out of dodge” or “the party’s over.”
Both those who focus on retrospection and those who focus on prospection are avoiding the closing tasks which must examine appreciation and regret, satisfaction and dissatisfaction, learnings and disappointments. For those who are holding on, what is the resistance to letting go? And for those who are letting go, what is the resistance to carrying forward their experience in the group.
Source: LIOS Handout “Group Dilemmas: Adaptive Challenges of Group Life”