The Role of Leaders

In many situations, the role of facilitating or leading a group, meeting, or discussion is not the responsibility of only one person but is the responsibility of several in the group. This is not always the case, and therefore, it is important for leaders to keep in mind that with the leadership role comes a certain amount of responsibility to other consumers/survivors. People often turn to leaders for assistance, guidance, and sometimes see them as mentors or someone they trust and “look up to.” As a result, leaders should maintain a degree of “professionalism” when working with others and be aware of their ability to:

  • Use good judgment when working with a group or issues that arise in that group.
  • Share a common goal with the group, be passionate, have integrity, and be trustworthy.
  • Pursue self-knowledge, accept responsibility and blame no one.
  • Help members feel comfortable and get to know each other.
  • Be sure the speaker has finished describing his/her problem before offering advice.
  • Listen carefully and considerately when another member is speaking and discourage side conversations by others in the group.
  • Promote positive comments and new viewpoints, that is, keep the discussion positive and upbeat so the discussion doesn’t deteriorate into a gripe session.
  • Notice silent people in the group and encourage them to participate.
  • Participate in the discussion by sharing problems, and offering ideas and advice.
  • Let individuals talk openly about negative or angry feelings. Often this must be done before positive advice can be given and received.
  • Make a commitment to the group, contributing whatever talents, skills, resources or information that are necessary to make certain that the group is successful.
  • Set goals, plan programs, identify jobs that need to be done, recognize and carry out the jobs that keep a group going.
  • Keep the group on topic and briefly restate what individuals have said.
  • State/summarize all sides of a dispute or argument.
  • Help individuals evaluate how they are doing and to figure out how to improve things.
  • Suggest ways to solve a problem.