There is not much that I remember from LDR 2162: Leadership in Groups and Communities, unfortunately. But one thing that stood out to me and that is quite relevant to my summer experience with the Rocky Mountain Conservancy is that of the group relations, the time it takes to develop as a group, and the stages the group goes through.
During the first week, training week, everyone was pretty distant as we all learned each other and figured each other out. It was also hard to really form relations in our crew because we were surrounded by people from other crews as well, so the first week that we had parted ways with the other crew and settled in at our site, we were still really just getting know each other.
I would have thought that, by now, our crew would be like family (and it certainly seems as though this is the case with other crews); however, we’ve been together not for a full month and only since this past backcountry hitch has our crew really bonded. We had been getting better little by little, but the hitch really helped us to all form much better relationships. Prior to this, there had been a good deal of tension. This tension, unfortunately, greatly arises from our crew leader.
The crew leader I believe has potential, but it is very clear that she has issues with certain people on the crew and she treats them differently. She also talks about them behind their back. In addition to this, she gets very easily offended, taking things the wrong way often, especially when it comes from one specific crew member. Also, she does not explain things well and quickly becomes frustrated and temperamental when any of us ask questions or make suggestions. For instance, when building a water bar, there was a gap between the rocks that we needed to get rid of, so someone suggested packing it with dirt. Instead of using this as a teaching moment and saying, “I like the way you’re thinking and I appreciate your suggestion. Unfortunately, we don’t want to do that because…” she got angry and retorted, “I know what I’m doing, okay.” Currently, we crew members are trying to figure out how to address the issues we have with our crew lead so as to make our experience here better.
Aside from this, however, our crew is getting better and really bonded over our struggles on the last hitch. It started on the first day when putting up the bear hang. Bear hangs are difficult as is, but this one was being especially annoying. Once we finally got it up, one side broke. So we fixed that side, and then the other side broke. By this point we were all frustrated, but we stuck together and supported each other until we finally got it up. We continued to have issues throughout the hitch (including the breaking of the bear hang again), but we battled through them together, which really helped us to bond. Overall, working and serving in a group is not an easy task, and it takes time to develop good group relations. And groups can work very well together with or without good leadership; however, the lack of good leadership and the presence of one single individual who brings negativity to the group can really impact group relations and group functionality
Here’s an article on how negative leadership can impact a group.