Empowerment Leadership Model for Small Groups, Teams, & Families
Course 2, Lesson 11
Identifying and Overcoming Internal Barriers
to Accomplishing the Group Purpose
knowledge & resource deficiencies
group process barriers
Note: Whenever "group" or "team" is used, it can mean "group", "team", or "family".
A successful group must continually identify and overcome barriers to the accomplishment of the group purpose. These barriers are usually interrelationship problems, insufficient knowledge and/or resources, and group process barriers. But anything that gets in the way of success must be dealt with.
This is the subtask on which the group leader will most often help with over the life of the group. If we think of a group progressing toward its purpose through identifiable goals as a straight line, barriers are those things that break the straightness of the line or actually block it. In the life of a group, there are different things continually getting in the way of progress. The successful group gets better and better at identifying and overcoming whatever gets in the way of progress.
Interrelationship barriers exist in all groups. It may be dislike between members, as well as a few members who like each other too well. It can be distrust for no good reason and distrust for a very good reason. It can be church board members not understanding one another and letting the confusion go unaddressed or creating a church split over it. Interrelationship problems can even be someone in a group needing help but not asking for it or help given that is not well received. You name it, it can be a barrier to a group’s progress toward its goal at sometime or another.
But, here is an interesting dilemma. Sometimes interrelationship problems are not a hindrance to the group’s progress toward its purpose, even though sinful. Two members of the Christian Ed Committee might not like one another and be at odds outside of the meetings but cooperative in the meetings. In such a case the Christian Ed Committee need not deal with the problem. But the church might. To deal with it in the committee where the problem does not exist would be taking the committee off of its course. Dysfunctional behavior that does not impede the group’s progress does not need to be dealt with – there. Probably elsewhere. However, if just one Christian Ed Committee member is so troubled about the conflict that takes place outside of the committee that it negatively affects his or her participation, then the conflict must be dealt with because it has entered into the process of the group. The group must help the member negatively affected to shelve the anger or anxiety for the benefit of the committee. And all of this can be talked about openly.
Most interrelationship problems will affect the group’s functioning. Therefore, from time to time, you as the group leader will have to teach interpersonal relationship skills to individuals and to the group, but only when no group member can teach the group these things.
Knowledge and resource insufficiencies can be barriers. If the church board does not understand denominational guidelines, the Sunday School class not understand how to view Scripture verses in context, the youth group not have any money to work with, the Missions Committee not have ready access to current information about missionaries, the members of a cell group not know and be comfortable with methods of inviting non-Christians to group meetings, or a Spiritual Obedience Group not know the 65 Togethers, then these deficiencies will be barriers to the accomplishment of the group purpose and goals.
Then there are group process barriers. This is when how the group is working is not taking the group closer to its purpose. A Spiritual Obedience Group might be taking an hour and a half for the twenty-minute Bible study, thus making it impossible for members to relate to one another as instructed in the Bible. A church board might be arguing over minutiae and not find time for the really important and critical tasks. A Sunday school class might be getting started late and not have enough time for the lesson. And so on.
Next, let's look how it is the group's responsibility to control dysfunctional behavior.
Copyright 2012 Dick Wulf, Colorado, USA