Group leadership is a process of providing a focus and direction to a particular organization or a social group with the aim of achieving a goal (Rice, 2013). To better understand this process, it is important to discuss thoroughly the style and techniques of an effective leader.
A strong leader should be aware of the concepts and techniques behind the success of a group. Since time immemorial, the discussion on whether the leadership is genetic or learned behavior has continued (Northouse, 2014). This concept is especially important in counseling groups where people want to find help. Professionals in the helping career such as psychiatrists, teachers, counselors, psychologists, ministers, managers and social workers lead groups to enhance the better relationship and work efficiently with people. The experts prefer to work with the groups since it is more efficient from the economic perspective. In fact, there are many individuals who share the related problems. Currently, administrators in schools and agencies encourage their counselors to lead the groups. In prisons and other correctional facilities, there is a bigger need for creating groups to solve and help the inmates (Jacobs & Spadaro, 2003). Group counseling approaches treatment of a problem through interactions with those who have experienced the same problem. These interactions are critical to interventions and the healing process of the group members.
Good leaders constantly develop trying to boost their self-improvement and educational activities. Being a leader, one should use certain important concepts to inspire a team to show a high level of teamwork and cooperation. According to Bass theory of leadership, an individual becomes a leader after three basic ways (Miner, 2015). Starting with the trait and transformational theories and finishing with the theory of Great events, one can become a leader. Trait theory explains that the leadership appears with the personality traits of an individual. Though, the Great events theory shows that, in the case of a significant event occurring in a lifetime of an individual, a person can start acquiring the leadership tendencies. The transformational theory explains that the leadership is based on an individual choice. People become leaders by learning certain skills (Miner, 2015).
A good leader has an honorable character and offers a selfless service to an organization. Every action that a leader undertakes will affect the members of the group and its objectives and well-being (Berg, Landreth, & Fall, 2013). The strategies of a leader define the leadership style he or she adopts. The common leadership styles are authoritarian, laisseza–faire, and democratic. Authoritarian type is leader-centered, democratic type is participant-centered, and laissez-faire type has no designated leader. Leaders should possess unique characteristics that can help them in achieving the group’s objectives. These qualities are considered to be key in maintaining a healthy environment in the group. Among the most important personal characteristics that a leader should have in maintaining a productive performance are persistance, active listening, confidence, trust, and integrity. Additionally, empathy should be a core component of the leadership. It communicates acceptance that encourages group members to support each other. It also focuses on the respect for the group member.
Leader-directed or group-directed approaches in the leadership styles are conflicting when one should decide the ultimate method to use in a group. The leader-directed approach makes the members of the group understand their supervisor (Capuzzi & Gross, 2013). Leaders who follow this type never demand support from the members of the group directly; they lead in a manner that is valuable to the members of the respective group. The leader-directed style prescribes that the leader should be able to understand the members’ needs and structures of the group to fulfill the objectives of the organization. If compared with the leader-directed style, the group-directed approach requires the leaders to work with the members and have them regulate the direction and content of the group (Capuzzi & Gross, 2013). This approach might be valuable to different groups, but it is time-consuming, especially when the frequency of the meetings is low. Another way to view the leadership style is to consider the functions of a supervisor. He or she can emotional stimulate, praise, protect, accept, explain, and interpret everything to the group. A good leader may serve as a model through self-disclosure, but one who sets the limits manages time and enforces the rules. Thus, a manager can perform different roles and functions in a group that show his full dedication to the goals of the group (Yalom & Leszcz, 2005).
Corey (2008) suggests that although individual counseling is the preferable method of the healing process, practitioners should realize the uniqueness of the group processes during the process. The American School Counselor Association recognizes the groups which make them the key problem solvers during the treatment of the psychological disorder (Bowers, 2012). Research shows that there are two common reasons for all groups. Thus, these groups offer more resources and viewpoints. Therefore, groups are efficient in problem-solving and decision-making strategies. The feelings of cohesion, the experience of belonging to a particular group, the chance to conform behaviors, the opportunity for feedback from a counterpart are aspects that a group might reveal while finding the solution to a problem. Moreover, the teamwork enables its participants to obtain knowledge by listening and observing the others. It is important to choose this form because it corresponds to the reality and offers the genuine pressure to sustain obligations. Finally, the group techniques are the ways to solve daily problems and make decision meaningfully (Nelson, 2013).
Group leadership concepts and techniques can incorporate the counseling process to help treat a client. The group counseling consists of displaying the leadership skills and techniques. There are different types of this representation. Task group is formed to perform an actual task. Psycho-educational groups target on the preventative task while educational groups aim at learning information about a particular topic or issue to help the group members cope with problems. For example, the following groups were created: a support group for suicide, a transition group to prepare students to enter high school, and many others. Counseling or problem-solving groups help participants resolve problems of living through social support and actual experience in the environment. Psychotherapy groups focus on personalities with the psychological disorder (Capuzzi & Gross, 2002).
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An effective leader must be aware of ethical considerations and a certain moral standard. In the past, scholars studied ethics in counseling and behavior in the group work. According to their research, most ethical problems and situations are experienced in the therapy process, although ethical standards relate to the leaders of the groups. Unprincipled behavior highlights that the leaders are not competent to lead the groups, and, thus, they do not reach the goals and do not care for their members (Avey, Wernsing, & Palanski, 2012, p. 25). It is the ethical responsibility of the team leader to make sure that the members are aware of proper treatment possibilities and services. The leader may see members for coming counseling or refer members to the other therapists. To check on a client is necessary because very frequently in therapy groups, members need additional individual or family counseling. Too often, ethical standards are desecrated so badly that no follow-up treatment could be administered. When it is necessary to solve the problem of confidentiality, there are two problems regarding this issue that any group leader should understand. The leader’s ethical obligation is to keep information and problems in the group confidential. However, the leader is not able to take total control of all the members (Avey, Wernsing, & Palanski, 2012, p. 23).
Group leaders in an organization, who help the individuals fight the mental issues, should integrate with other health care professionals, such as psychologists and psychiatrists. The leaders of theses groups should primarily coordinate the treatment plan and keep important interpersonal matters alive in both settings. They should be aware of medical hazards and needs of their clients; they should also know the types of drug therapy and the possible side effects. At times, clients are unable to follow consistently the objectives of a group (Capuzzi & Gross, 2013). Though, eliminating a client from the group is a grave mistake. A leader should, therefore, be careful and take into consideration all measures to help this client. Obviously, a group always experiences conflicts. The resolutions of conflict among group members should be done through empathy. Finally, respectfully disagreeing and managing the emotions as a leader are the most important ways to resolve the conflicts. The leader has to facilitate the interaction between the members and eliminate the harmful patterns.
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Group concepts and techniques are valuable tools in the field of professional counseling. Working as a group is better than working alone, even if it is time-consuming. The leadership skills and techniques are an obligation in the development of a good treatment plan for the group counseling procedures. How one leads his or her members one the group determines the success of goals’ management. Leadership concepts and techniques are, indeed, important to the achievement of a good counseling treatment plan (Berg, Landreth, & Fall, 2013). Group counseling as one of the most used techniques should reassure that the client does not face any disregard from the other members. With this knowledge, psychologists have formed psycho-educational groups that address the need to help the counterparts in fighting the problems they encounter in life.