That Guy In The Group


I work with groups of senior business people in pressured situations and each time I note an interesting group dynamic unfold …

In groups people will usually naturally adopt specific roles that can help or hinder outcomes. In one case there was a designated leader, then a motley crew including the unofficial expert, fact-focused engineer type, bubbly cruise director, den mother, smart entrepreneur and, last but never least, the ignoramus. There is, unfortunately, always one.

He’s that guy making sarcastic asides, talking over the host, ignoring the agenda, arguing the point, doing his own thing and always self-aggrandising. He (or she) is often enabled by a sidekick who keeps ineffectually apologising for him/her.

I suspect this guy is easily intimidated and blusters as cover, but nobody can get to know or inform him because he repels any real conversation or refuses participation. More listening and awareness of others would help, but he is unwilling to fit in and self-focused. There’s only two options – confront or ignore him. The group chose the latter and so his role became to simply remind us that attitude is the foundation for aptitude for any learning or development, professional or personal. I wasn’t surprised to later hear his feedback was “he got nothing from the group experience”. 

My tip:

Group dynamics are patterns. Be aware of how you adopt roles when in a group and whether that meets your purpose for participating, or how you might adapt accordingly. Don’t attempt to “fix” others in a group; just imagine you’re a stick in a stream and flow around and past the rocks to get where you’re going. More importantly, don’t be the rock.