Leadership in Small Groups

Okay, I have to admit, this post started as a rant awhile ago but I decided this frustration was an opportunity to think about leadership and what makes a good leader of a small group. I'm part of several small groups and I lead a small group or two, so this is something I'm very interested in and pay attention to.

What makes a good leader--specifically of small groups?
  • A listener. Being tuned in to your group's ideas is smart. Often a synergy will form--maybe not with the group as a whole if it's larger, but often with a core group of people, where their ideas feed each other's and the compilation is better than just one person's ideas. There needs to be a leader who will listen to the ideas, suggestions, and preferences, put them together, boil them down and say "Okay, this is what we're going to do.".
  • Accepting the buck. A leader, even of a small group must be able to say, "This is where the buck stops."
  • A decision maker. If no decision is made, the group stalls out. If there are five variations of the decision, the group and its efforts are splintered.
  • A clear leader or nucleus lead team. Otherwise there's confusion and distrust. If the nucleus lead team isn't 100% on the same page, friction and division will develop almost immediately. There is much to be said for united fronts.

These things seem to be necessary even in small groups where things are run, for the most part, democratically. Often the person the group members look to is the founder, the person whose idea it was to start the group. When they don't step to the plate the group often stalls, stagnates, or splinters. It's not pretty to see happen and isn't fun to be a part of.

So tell me, what are some other things you've noticed a leader of small groups needs to do?


  1. These are great thoughts, Peejers. I've seen both sides of this.

  2. It depends on the type of group involved. I've been in prayer groups or lay-therapy groups where certain persons dominate the time with their issues and others (read me) are left out or given a mere 10 seconds of time. So, the group leader should know how to facilitate the group so everyone has a chance to share.

    Also, the group leader should be sensitive to the more quiet persons in the group and encourage them to speak up.

    I've been a group leader, too, but not such emotion-raising types of groups- children's groups, my weight-loss group, etc.

    The group leader needs to have risen above any circumstances that the group is focusing on. For example, back in the 1980's, I was a deaconess in a church, and was in charge of the support groups that our church had. At the time, I also started and facilitated a group for families with a family member in prison. The group flopped- because my own emotions were raw and I was the one in need of the support. There was no way I could lead a group when I was so needy.

    Groups can be good- but they can be painful. Personally, I avoid those type groups now- it's not worth it.

    Patty,if you are in a toxic group, get out!


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