It is commonly believed that self improvement is only achieved alone and that getting ahead of the pack requires running solo. This is where group dynamics prove this stereotype wrong. Sometimes when faced with a challenge, we may not realise we are going in the wrong direction and we might benefit from an outsider’s point of view. While it may be daunting for more introverted personalities, group coaching is great for personal and professional growth. The right group dynamics may accelerate growth when we find the right kind of support to help us commit to necessary changes. This week, we explore how the power of collective intelligence can help boost our self improvement.
“When he took time to help the man up the mountain, lo, he scaled it himself.”
– Tibetan Proverb
How do group dynamics support self improvement?
Exploring a particular aspect of our self improvement as a group confronts us to others that may share the same interest, but not the same perspective. This difference alone provides much potential for growth. When we are unsure of how to go about new information, a situation we are struggling to resolve, exposing it to a group may help us in many ways.
First, the exercise of verbally articulating the issue at hand may bring clarity. We have to order our thoughts to best communicate them to people that we may not know very well, this forces us to organise the information in a way that makes it accessible to others.
Secondly, allocating a place to focus on a specific issue, away from distractions, means giving it space to find a solution. Discussing difficult decisions or situations with strangers may seem completely unnatural at first. At the same time, as they are completely removed from our situation, we have a better chance at getting an honest opinion or impartial feedback. Group dynamics also revolve around trust, somehow within a group of strangers where nobody has vested interest in another’s life, we find a safe space. Vulnerability may emerge from this, enabling each person to go further in depth into their blockages when faced with a challenge.
Thirdly, communicating with people that come from another background, have a different education or different complex life experiences is a vastly underrated catalyst for self improvement. Some of us may also have to work on ourselves to accept others’ point of view as there is a time for stubbornness – and one for open-mindedness! The collective intelligence that arises within group dynamics may provide lessons for our future selves. Through others we learn to see our situation in a new light.
“A mirroring effect often occurs in group dynamics. In the other person’s situation, we come to see another perspective. We share our knowledge and experience to help them overcome their challenges. In this process we build a common resilience by sharing the lessons we have internalised until now,” Sandra Cohen
Sharing is growing
One of the most precious derivatives of a healthy group dynamic is mutual reinforcement. Interacting in an engaging and motivating way helps us actively participate in a greater ecosystem. We come to realise that we are a part of something bigger than us. This principle is a pillar of Traditional Chinese Medicine which considers Man as a component of a greater whole. This perspective values the way Man engages with the environment and other beings. Similarly, group dynamics can positively influence our growth.
Group coaching requires us to engage in what can be called a peer coaching relationship. A beneficial side effect of group dynamics, peer coaching involves challenging each other towards the milestones we have set for ourselves. Indeed, group coaching may help overcome limiting beliefs and get out of our comfort zone.
Group dynamics can be precious in times where our self motivation is waning. Once we establish the milestones we wish to reach, sharing our action plan creates a feeling of accountability towards the rest of the group. By letting others know of our action steps, we are forming an unspoken agreement to follow through on our word. This may apply positive pressure in moments when we lose sight of what we wish to achieve. We have previously discussed practising accountability in depth on the blog and explained its benefits.
Seeking win-wins in group dynamics
There is no healthy group dynamic without the understanding that we are all here to support one another. The practice of holding space means other members of the group lend a sympathetic ear with an open-minded attitude. “When we widen the scope of the issue and change our perspective, we come to envisage new possibilities we may not have been aware of without someone else pointing them out,” analyses Sandra Cohen.
Through building mutually beneficial relationships from the start, it is implied that discussions and shared wisdom within the group will follow a win-win logic. When we help someone else see their issues more clearly, or differently, we also support our personal progress. It is a factor for success when all parties involved see the benefits and positive outcomes of a relationship. Gathering a supportive community around ourselves is key to our active self improvement.
Collective intelligence as a springboard
What group dynamics teach us is that not one person has the exact same perception and opinions as the next. This is where the magic of collective intelligence may happen. Complementary pairings in peer group coaching are powerful in shifting our perspective. Where one person sees failings everywhere, another can see solutions. In return, the same solution-oriented person may struggle to identify where improvements may be needed, this is where a problem minded person might point out aspects to be improved. In essence, collective intelligence rests upon each group member’s acceptance that they do not have all of the answers and that they may come from unexpected places.
The unique power of collective intelligence also resides in the laboratory effect that emerges within group coaching. It is a place to experiment, to think out of the box together and get creative. This is why it is important that group coaching be a low risk environment. The key is to provide safe confidential spaces where no member passes judgement on another.
“When we harness collective intelligence to strive towards our goals, we not only help ourselves but also show others the way forward, and vice-versa,”
The magic within a coaching group happens when we discover that many avenues can lead to success. Through supporting someone else’s growth we are unknowingly chipping away at our own progress. Involving an experienced coach while partaking in such a group may help establish the behaviours and practices. Experience the catalysing power of group coaching by joining Aura & Meta’s unique programme Reset, Realign, Restart: STOP existing. START LIVING starting February 15th. Experience the power of collective intelligence and accelerate your self-improvement journey!