Part of the story line of my new book involves a youth gang recruiting new members. It made me think about groups and how often I have repeated to my daughters that they should stand apart as individuals, not as herd animals.
It is said that man is a social animal and that groups are important to an individual’s social, physical and emotional well-being…a herd. Throughout a working career spanning almost forty years altogether, and throughout my tenure as a parent of children growing up in today’s world, I have observed many types of groups in action. Rightly or wrongly, I have arrived at some observations concerning groups. These observations should neither be taken as negative nor positive as these are values imposed by individuals whose perspectives differ. There are three observations:
Groups are not leaders
No group ever accomplished anything without a leader. Leadership roles are assumed by individuals. If you place group of people in a room with a task but no direction, one person will rise as a leader who directs the others to accomplish the task.
Groups follow leaders
Groups of people are sheep without direction in the absence of leadership. Individual leaders, those who stand above the group, determine the direction and effectiveness of a group. Even if the group has a governing council or other body, the individual leader exerts the authority.
Groups induce other followers
New members often see a group, without seeing the leaders of the group that provide the group’s direction. Do you like what the group represents? If so, do you know the leaders and are they consistent with what the group represents. If the leaders are not consistent with what the group represents then the group is misrepresenting itself.
Groups reinforce individual differences
Finally, many groups are about the “those like me”-v-“those not like me” syndrome. They provide a divisive sense of “those like me” against everyone who is not like me. In a time when we need to pull together more than ever, we seem to be focused more than ever on our individual differences and cluster tighter into groups that make those differences ever more divisive.
Perhaps, then, we need to focus less on our ethic groups, religious groups, racial groups, social groups, business groups and focus more on the business at hand…Americans supporting and being there for other Americans. Americans need to stand together without bickering among themselves and face whatever the future holds. Will individual leaders rise who will lead our many thousands of groups with different interests away from their differences and finally bring them together to make one nation? If not, what would it take? You tell me.
As always, there are many opinions. Please feel free to write yours.
Clabe Polk is into a second career as a fiction author. He has taken more than thirty-seven years of professional managerial experience, scientific background, a lifetime of practical skills, his love of reading, research and writing and combined them into action stories about real people told in a tongue-in-cheek style all his own.
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