Editor’s Note

Developing Keys for Group Dynamics

One of the advantages of being an academic editor is the opportunity to participate in a variety of higher education lectures and workshops. In May 2005, I participated in a four-day, 12-14-hour-per-day workshop for #116 of Graziadio’s outstanding Presidential/Key Executive (P/KE) MBA program. Class #116 was composed of 21 CEOs, presidents, and other key executives from a variety of industries. This workshop was the kick-off for a two-year MBA program. Having already achieved a significant level of success, these individuals have decided that this particular degree will benefit their careers and their lives, and have made extraordinary sacrifices and committed to a significant amount of time and energy to increase their business knowledge and managerial skills.

Photo: Daniel V.

What fascinated me about participating in the opening P/KE #116 workshop was the way in which the faculty, in particular Wayne Strom, PhD, Professor of Behavioral Science, who led much of this workshop with a focus on leadership challenges, took a group of assertive, dynamic, successful, take-charge leaders and built a cohesive, supportive team of co-students. At different times the class worked in partnerships, in small groups, and as one large group. Over the duration of this intensive workshop, each member of the group learned how to recognize and overcome personal weaknesses, how to acknowledge and build others’ strengths, and how to help one another develop skills to create a synergistic whole. Instead of reacting as competitors, class members became comrades, building mutual respect that lay the foundation for establishing and maintaining networking, mentoring, and advising relationships throughout their professional lives.

My participation in the class was as one of the students. Even though my career experience as an editor is different from that of a corporate president or CEO, the level of professionalism and respect dictated that I be given equal opportunity, equal say, and equal responsibility for the success of the group. What I took away from this experience will stay with me for a long time as important attributes that every business person should seek to instill in building successful teams of employees. The experience also reinforced a personal commitment to continue seeking to live each moment to its fullest and at my personal best.

Getting to the point, below are just a few of the key points that I learned for developing group dynamics.

  • The voice of each individual counts, so listen.
  • Participate and encourage everyone else to participate because everyone has something to contribute.
  • Build trust by being candid with as well as respectful of others.
  • Take responsibility for your actions and reactions in the group environment.
  • Remember that focusing on weaknesses undermines, but focusing on strengths supports.
  • Know your weaknesses so you can grow; know your strengths so you can stretch.
  • Stand by your convictions, but remember the group is not always right or always wrong, and neither are you.
  • Figure out your priorities so that at the end of the day you know what can’t be left undone.
  • Characteristics of integrity, honesty, and fairness matter more than who goes home with the most marbles. “Marbles” are soon spent, while the characteristics are perpetual currency.
  • Understand what’s in the box, so you can think outside of the box.
Author of the article
Nancy Ellen Dodd, MPW, MFA
Nancy Ellen Dodd, MPW, MFA, , serves as academic editor of the "Graziadio Business Review and teaches presentations and stories at the Graziadio School." Her book on creative writing, "The Writer's Compass: From Story Map to Finished Draft in 7 Stages," was published by Writer's Digest Books in June 2011. She also served as editor of Marshall, a USC academic/alumni magazine, and started the Marshall Review, an online journal for the Marshall School of Business at USC. More than 135 of her articles have been published in local and national publications. Dodd received her master's in Professional Writing from USC with a concentration in screenwriting and an MFA in playwriting at the USC School of Theatre. Ms. Dodd also teaches screenwriting as an adjunct faculty in Seaver College at Pepperdine University.
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