Benne and Sheats' Original Article (1948).pdf

Benne and Sheats' Original Article (1948).pdf - Functional...

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Functional Roles of Groiip Members KENNETH D . BENNE AND PAUL SHEATS The Reiative Negiect of Member Roies in Group Training Efforts to improve group functioning through training have traditionally emphasized the training of group leadership. And frequently this training has been directed toward the improvement of the skills of the leader in transmitting information and in manipulating groups. Little direct attention seems to have been given to the training of group members in the membership roles required for effective group growth and production. The present discussion is based on the conviction that both effective group training and adequate research into the effectiveness of group training methods must give attention to the identifi- cation, analysis, and practice of leader and member roles, seen as co-relative aspects of over-all group growth and production. Certain assumptions have undergirded the tendency to isolate the leadership role from membership roles and to neglect the latter in processes of group train- ing. 1) "Leadership" has been identified with traits and qualities inherent within the "leader" personality. Such traits and qualities can be developed, it is assumed, in isolation from the functionihg of members in a group setting. The present treatment sees the leadership role in terms of functions to be per- formed within a group in helping that group to grow and to work productively. No sharp distinction can be made between leadership and membership functions, between leader and member roles. Groups may operate with various degrees of diffusion of "leadership" functions among group members or of concentra- tion of such functions in one member or a few members. Ideally, of course, the concept of leadership emphasized here is that of a multilaterally shared re- sponsibility. In any event, effectiveness in the leader role is a matter of leader- member relationship. And one side of a relationship cannot be effectively trained in isolation from the retraining of the other side of that relationship. 2) It has been assumed that the "leader" is uniquely responsible for the quality and amount of production by the group. The "leader" must see to it that the "right" group goals are set, that the group jobs get done, that members are "motivated" to participate. On this view, membership roles are of secondary importance. "Membership" is tacitly identified with "followership." The present discussion assumes that the quality and amount of group production is the "responsibility" of the group. The setting of goals and the marshalling of resources to move toward these goals is a group responsibility in which all members of a mature 41
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group come variously to share. The functions to be performed both in building and maintaining group-centered activity and in effective production by the group are primarily member roles. Leadership functions can be defined in terms of facilitating identification, acceptance, development and allocation of these group- required roles by the group.
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  • Fall '19
  • Group development

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