Being a leader, and working with people

  1. Hello
    I recently started nursing school, and everything (for the most part) is going great, so far. But, there is an issue that has come up for me, and I think everyone here might want to read about. It has to do with leadership and group dynamics. My question is this: how do I be a leader in group discussions, using assertiveness and collaboration, without getting critisized, stonewalled, or getting an otherwise negative reaction? It seems that when I'm in certain groups (not every group, by the way), there is a competition for the leadership role. When this happens, I've seen the group morale detiorate, and I've also seen people become hostile and insulting. It seems like there is a way to finesse the group a little bit, or a way to be recognized and appreciated for my contributions without getting the stink eye. I've specifically seen people have marked negative reactions to my analytical, problem-solving approach to getting things done. I've heard others say that it's just not right to "barge in and tell everybody," but I'm not just going to sit there while people waste time and chat. It seems like people are letting their personal lives into classwork, and not focusing on the big picture -- which is that we're there to accomplish a common goal, through the most effective means possible. Is it unfair to presume that people's reactions to my personality are biased, because of their personal interest in achieving leadership at all costs? It's a hard way to look at it, but it's the only conclusion I've come to. When I look at my behavior, I recall being as nice as I possibly could be, making sure to initiate conversations and engage every group member, and bring a positive, supportive -- yet leading -- attitude to the group. Part of self reflection is just that... but I get the feeling that I'm going to have to put on some armor before working with these people again, because I've seen them become insulting, demeaning, and negative in situations like I'm talking about. This, in my opinion, is entirely unprofessional... and it puts me in a bad spot, because I look like the bad guy, even though I've maintained a professional level of communication the entire time. What to do, what to do. Advice?
    Nursing Student X
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  2. 28 Comments

  3. by   TheCommuter
    I have adopted a 'laissez-faire' style of leadership. This basically means that I am leading a group of people who are capable of making most of their own decisions and, therefore, I step back into a highly-permissive role because people can direct themselves. Personally I'm uncomfortable with being a leader and would rather just 'live and let live', but the laissez-faire style of leadership works out just fine for me.
  4. by   michar
    I think in groups the natural leaders generally come forward. These are not the ones who say "hey! do it my way!" but the ones who everyone turns to when they need direction/information/guidance/whatever.

    In study groups there isn't always a leader, and there are other situations the same. We have a study group with rules. You learn your section of material and you come prepared and ready to share. Leeches not allowed. I'm generally the one to call people on it when they aren't prepared (mainly cause I'm not worried about my social image as much as others) I do it nicely, but not subtley.

    People either end up not coming (darnit) or coming prepared (what I really hope happens.) They are the ones who end up making the decision though.

    You also mentioned several people trying to be the leader. This is a time when IMO the natural leaders end up being ahead.

    As much as I think leadership skills are very valuable, knowing when it's appropriate that you aren't the leader and need to follow is a valuable skill too. No one person is always the best leader.
  5. by   llg
    Quote from michar
    As much as I think leadership skills are very valuable, knowing when it's appropriate that you aren't the leader and need to follow is a valuable skill too. No one person is always the best leader.
    That is so true. It took me a long time to learn that lesson in my own career. I became much more successful (and happy) when I learned to let go sometimes and be the leader at other times. It takes wisdom and experience to be able to judge exactly when to do what.

    Also, a lot of people (including me) believe that you can't be a good leader if you don't know how to follow.

    Finally, learning to be a true leader usually takes time. The original poster may just have to go through a learning process to develop those skills.
  6. by   FNPhopeful
    I hate study groups- people just end up chatting and since Im soft spoken I just get drowned out. I need to be alone to study. Its funny though these same people who tend to rely on their "study groups" are doing poorly. I think its more of a social thing for them. Personally I spend enough time with my classmates at school and I need alone time. LOL

    Its funny because I think I would be a great leader because I'd enjoy it but Im just not gonna yell over everyone.
  7. by   WDWpixieRN
    Quote from FNPhopeful
    I hate study groups- people just end up chatting and since Im soft spoken I just get drowned out. I need to be alone to study. Its funny though these same people who tend to rely on their "study groups" are doing poorly. I think its more of a social thing for them. Personally I spend enough time with my classmates at school and I need alone time. LOL
    Its funny because I think I would be a great leader because I'd enjoy it but Im just not gonna yell over everyone.
    Wow....thanks for this post....our instructors have mentioned several times that someone on campus (learning center?) wants to help put together study groups, but it just doesn't interest me as I do study pretty well alone and it's very hard to schedule the time that we're all available anyway, so I prefer not to even try....but I thought something was wrong with me because I felt this way!!

    On top of that, going back to the original topic, there are enough people in our class who think they are the "leaders" or the know-it-alls, and I also prefer not to deal with them....for instance we had a small-group activity in class a week or so ago where 4 of us had to put together chart notes from a small amount of info given by the instructor....as we were discussing, one gal kept insisting that we basically rewrite (in total) everything the instructor had given us, I quietly piped in that I thought certain pieces of info were fluff...she totally dismissed me, tried to re-read ME the book (which irritate me no end), then kept on saying how SHE thought it should be done....since it didn't affect my grade, I shut up...it was obvious it wasn't open for discussion; she was "right"...the rest did it her way, and when the instructor reviewed the possible answers, it turned out that there was, indeed, plenty of "fluff" that should have been omitted...right after class was over this gal started chatting me up, almost in an effort (I felt) to act like nothing happened...but I was irritated....this person is/was NOT a leader...she was obnoxious, overbearing, and wanted it her way...which it turned out wasn't right...

    My preference for a leader is someone who is quietly unassuming...pays attention in class and doesn't clamor for the spotlight, does well on tests, checkouts, clinicals, and is helpful when asked or sees someone struggling. They are cheerleaders for others and realize that this isn't a competition for some coveted Ms./Mr. RN Student of the Year or the only position open in the world for a new RN. They are mature, don't brown-nose, and just get the job done, and done well. I don't particularly like being the leader, but have done it when no one else takes the helm....at that point, I want everyone's point of view and a concensus when we get down to the brass nubs....

    Just being pushy gets you nowhere...trust me, I just left Corporate America where over 1,000 IT employees are leaving in droves for just that reason...
  8. by   locolorenzo22
    In truth, this is the major problem I'm having with part of my group! I almost felt like you could have written this for me!
    In all honesty, I'm just the kind that is ok with being a leader, but if you don't want to follow ANYTHING I'm telling you, without giving a good reason, I'm more likely to ignore you. I can admit when I'm wrong, when you can show me that. I'm not going to follow blindly...
    That being said, I am with the easy-going school. We get together, we study, and I pitch in with what I can, but if you don't want to learn, there's nothing I can do to make you....I am always around for the people I've gotten to know who are struggling, have ?'s, and accept that I'm going to make them think, not just give them an answer, because that doesn't help you learn.
    I'm going to be more with the clinical group, I think, most of the group all go to the same site and I have a feeling we'll be going to the site to research all around the same time as well.
    Just my .02 cents. It pays to be a leader, but not everyone appreciates it. Ignore those ones, and just do what you can with people who respect you for what you bring to the table.
  9. by   jov
    Quote from USCSomeday
    how do I be a leader in group discussions
    What to do, what to do. Advice?
    well, I guess by now you are putting two and two together and figuring out that leadership **often** isn't really fun, now is it? I would agree that a leader naturally evolves out of a group... and it isn't always the person who thinks they are the leader. You've identified yourself as such...now let's poll the group and see if they agree. Since you have perhaps gotten any or all of the following: competition for the leadership role, criticized, stone-walled, other negative reactions, hostility, insults and demeaning remarks...perhaps the group has not agreed with your assessment that you are the leader.

    Your remarks regarding your intolerance to letting people "waste time and chat" and "letting their personal lives into classwork" could demonstrate that you have not recognized that groups have many purposes, not all of which are well served by your "analytical problem solving approach to getting things done." Sometimes people want to sit and chat. It warms up the group a little bit and contributes to bonding and the shared experience. Sometimes people need a little break from the go-go-go merry go round and just need to decompress a little bit. And then there's always the concept of "sharpen the saw" or taking breaks in order to be more productive in the long run.

    finally, your "only conclusion" to the resistance to your *leadership* attempts is that the reason why people aren't letting you be the leader is because of their personal interest in achieving leadership at all costs. There's never one conclusion when it comes to managing people.

    O.k. we forgive you. After all, you're only 25. But you might want to spend some time with some of Stephen Covey's books... and you might want to sit back, wait and watch for real leaders to emerge in your group. You'll know them when you see them. They won't have to tell you who it is. Invariably, it's the person who puts the other individual's needs ahead of his/her own's...
  10. by   USCSomeday
    Quote from jov
    well, I guess by now you are putting two and two together and figuring out that leadership **often** isn't really fun, now is it? I would agree that a leader naturally evolves out of a group... ...
    Well, that's certainly a thoughtful response to my post. Thanks I really should give you more details about the situation, though. Let's start with a review of what happened. I entered this group to make a positive contribution, and did so professionally and politely. Then, I offered my unique, thoughtful, problem-solving/analytical approach to the job and communicated it effectively; I was able to offer a rational, logical solution to a problem and deliver it in such a way as to help the group and give it direction. While this is going on, however, there are two group members -- with a history of talking over others, putting down other's points of view, and stonewalling people who get in their way -- that insist on being unprofessional, who then go on to make negative insinuations, give dirty looks, and bring down the group morale...
    Now, I'll give you a summary of my part in the group's process, and show how I exemplified successful teambuilding and leadership.
    First, I broke the ice with friendliness and a positive attitude, and invited active participation. I established our goals and set priorites, taking into account personal issues by telling people what I think, responding to others, and involving everyone. Then, I determined our roles and responsibilities, organizing my ideas and collaborating with others to decide who would be doing what. I used strategies to accomplish this, and did so by listening to others, tolerating differences, being open and flexible, and managing my emotions by expressing myself assertively and respectfully, while still managing to be sensitive to others. Then, I followed up and followed through, offering support to the other group members and taking on individual responsibility.
    Now, back to my original question: how do you maintain a leadership role in the face of obstinacy and bad attitudes? What paths can someone take to ensure that they maintain professionalism and a positive attitude when their ideas are met with disrespect and unconstructive criticism? Being aware of group dynamics -- as a means for becoming leaders in nursing -- and engaging in productive exercises is something I'm sure everyone on this board can benefit from, which is my goal for this topic.
  11. by   abbythetabby
    Quote from FNPhopeful
    ...Personally I spend enough time with my classmates at school and I need alone time. LOL
    :yeahthat:
  12. by   Daytonite
    Quote from uscsomeday
    i entered this group to make a positive contribution, and did so professionally and politely. then, i offered my unique, thoughtful, problem-solving/analytical approach to the job and communicated it effectively. . .it seems that when i'm in certain groups (not every group, by the way), there is a competition for the leadership role. when this happens, i've seen the group morale deteriorate, and i've also seen people become hostile and insulting.
    i think your assessment of your role and behavior in this group is incorrect. you chose to be part of this group. i suggest you choose to exit it. it's obvious to me that a good deal of the time the other group members don't want you there. they are trying to show you that by their behavior instead of coming out and telling you. i wouldn't stay in a group when it was obviously causing me that much emotional upset. so, why do you continue to stick it out when you clearly mention that joining this group was a voluntary choice? (that's a rhetorical question i think you should answer for yourself. i am not looking for you to respond to me.)
  13. by   Rosa2Little
    Quote from USCSomeday
    Well, that's certainly a thoughtful response to my post. Thanks I really should give you more details about the situation, though. Let's start with a review of what happened. I entered this group to make a positive contribution, and did so professionally and politely. Then, I offered my unique, thoughtful, problem-solving/analytical approach to the job and communicated it effectively; I was able to offer a rational, logical solution to a problem and deliver it in such a way as to help the group and give it direction. While this is going on, however, there are two group members -- with a history of talking over others, putting down other's points of view, and stonewalling people who get in their way -- that insist on being unprofessional, who then go on to make negative insinuations, give dirty looks, and bring down the group morale...
    Now, I'll give you a summary of my part in the group's process, and show how I exemplified successful teambuilding and leadership.
    First, I broke the ice with friendliness and a positive attitude, and invited active participation. I established our goals and set priorites, taking into account personal issues by telling people what I think, responding to others, and involving everyone. Then, I determined our roles and responsibilities, organizing my ideas and collaborating with others to decide who would be doing what. I used strategies to accomplish this, and did so by listening to others, tolerating differences, being open and flexible, and managing my emotions by expressing myself assertively and respectfully, while still managing to be sensitive to others. Then, I followed up and followed through, offering support to the other group members and taking on individual responsibility.
    Now, back to my original question: how do you maintain a leadership role in the face of obstinacy and bad attitudes? What paths can someone take to ensure that they maintain professionalism and a positive attitude when their ideas are met with disrespect and unconstructive criticism? Being aware of group dynamics -- as a means for becoming leaders in nursing -- and engaging in productive exercises is something I'm sure everyone on this board can benefit from, which is my goal for this topic.
    It is obvious that being a leader is important to you. Please know that what I am about to say is offered as constructive criticism.

    Count the number of times in your posts that you used "I". Sometimes the best leaders are those who facilitate the ideas of those around them -- encouraging the group to listen to not YOUR OWN ideas, but to the ideas of the other members. Listen, listen, listen. Spend less time saying "here's what I think" and more time saying "listen to what Mary thinks, she's got a great idea!", or "Jim has done some work on what subject and we ought to hear what he has to say".The best managers/leaders know how to shift the focus off them, and foster the growth of others.

    Good Luck. I'm sure that you will be a successful leader in time.
  14. by   WDWpixieRN
    Quote from USCSomeday
    • I offered my unique, thoughtful, problem-solving/analytical approach to the job and communicated it effectively; I was able to offer a rational, logical solution to a problem and deliver it in such a way as to help the group and give it direction.
    • Now, I'll give you a summary of my part in the group's process, and show how I exemplified successful teambuilding and leadership.
    • First, I broke the ice with friendliness and a positive attitude, and invited active participation.
    • I established our goals and set priorites, taking into account personal issues by telling people what I think, responding to others, and involving everyone.
    • Then, I determined our roles and responsibilities, organizing my ideas and collaborating with others to decide who would be doing what. I used strategies to accomplish this, and did so by listening to others, tolerating differences, being open and flexible, and managing my emotions by expressing myself assertively and respectfully, while still managing to be sensitive to others.
    • Then, I followed up and followed through, offering support to the other group members and taking on individual responsibility.
    Now, back to my original question: how do you maintain a leadership role in the face of obstinacy and bad attitudes? What paths can someone take to ensure that they maintain professionalism and a positive attitude when their ideas are met with disrespect and unconstructive criticism? Being aware of group dynamics -- as a means for becoming leaders in nursing -- and engaging in productive exercises is something I'm sure everyone on this board can benefit from, which is my goal for this topic.
    Sounds like something from The Apprentice...sometimes people don't want all that organization and protocol...they just want to get together to study and learn....and socialize and commiserate....we get enough of that in school along with the authoritative culture....this sounds more like something from the school of business....reminds me of something from a textbook on Project Management!!

    As for your last question (which I placed in italics), I'd suggest the fast track to an upper management position -- somewhere...that's the kind of thinking that does anything BUT create or foster allegiance or creativity in a group or work setting.

    As the kids' coaches are fond of saying, "There is no 'I' in Team."

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