OSB Group Dynamics Strategy and tactics to excel
Group Dynamics explained: this task is designed to enable the OSB Group Dynamics panel to check how people interact in a group. What a candidate is doing in a group discussion. is he silent? is he interrupting? too bossy? is he contributing to the discussion?
The OSB Group Dynamics will be conducted before a panel of Officers usually including:
- President (Military Person)
- Specialist Officer (Military Person)
You can only see this personality trait at a Group Dynamics. and the sole purpose of the Group Dynamics is for the assessor to see if you have something to say, can say it in a way that is constructive to the mission that the group is trying to achieve.
At the ADF OSB, the Group Dynamics test is focused on one thing and that is Leadership. you might encounter this type of test in the business world, but there the focus is much different. the business world checks for culture fit, creativity, communication and the ability to work in a group.
Because the focus of the Group Dynamics in the OSB is on leadership, you must prepare for that as part of your Group Dynamics preparation.
You will get a case that within it there are many subjects. your goal is to extract the leadership topic and focus all your efforts on projecting that you have leadership traits.
At the end of the exercise, you will need to rank your peers, on how do you think they performed on the group task. make sure you pick a person that did contribute, but not the strongest person. if you will pick the strongest person, he will gain too much “power” on your expense.
Now, for ethical reasons I can’t share with the reader my specific case at my OSB, but I will reveal to you a very big secret! which is: there are many business cases in the public domain that you can read and learn a lot from. Many books that cover this topic (see links at the bottom of the page) will help you prepare for the Group Dynamics case.
One of those cases is found in a very good book (which is highly recommended: “The Art of Critical Decision Making – Prof. Michael A. Roberto” in this book, the amazing prof Roberto talk about many business cases regarding decision making, but one case is very relevant for leadership.
This case is based on a real story: it focus on a group of people that crash with their plan in the American Andes mountains – this story is known as The Story of the Andes Survivors. In brief, this story talks about a group that crashes with their plan in the summit of the Andes On October 13th, 1972. when they crashed they decided to make camp. and wait for help. that bad decision almost killed all of them. it was just the act of 2 brave boys after 2 months, that actually saved the remaining survivors. they decided that they will try to get off the mountain, and by taking the leadership, and trying to put themselves in a better state saved the rest.
Analyzing this case we need first to find the focal point of the case as a group. the focal point of this case is: do we stay or do we go? when speaking about leadership, we need to go back to the root of the term: to lead means to go, while management means to handle. leadership is dynamic while management is static. leaders take whatever they have and make it better, managers just manage the state they are in. (if you need a very good book that will explain to you the difference between leadership and management, look at the links at the bottom).
So in the Group Dynamics, we should have chosen to go, to lead ourselves to a better condition. only leaders will see any situation and believe they can make it better. managers will only want to manage their resources. our goal is to show the assessors that we have leadership traits, so all our actions should convey that.
The case itself in the business world is constructed in a way, that the group needs to put in an order of importance items from a list. in this case, half of the items will support a staying decision, and half support a going decision. you must be able to look at the item list and see that there meaning is an opposite. so by revealing the focal point we can eliminate to the bottom of the list the items that convey the wrong course of action. (this is very usual to Group Dynamics – where using communication you need to convince other members to follow you and take the right actions).
Tips for the Group Dynamics at the Officer Selection board:
Make sure you don’t rush on reading the case, in order to be the first to talk. that might cause you to not fully understand the case. You must find the focal point of the case, without it, you might make the wrong argument, that will lead the assessors to think you don’t have the relevant leadership traits.
Practice being clear and articulate in your communications. your personal communication is key for your success. if you have solved the case, but don’t know how to get the “answer” across to the members, the group, including you will fail.
Learn how to involve and work with others. this is the most important aspect of the Group Dynamics exercise. If you know how to engage people, knowing what to say will be easy to convey. on the other hand, if you can’t engage people, even if you are right, that will do you no good.
Don’t get seduced or lost in the detail. time is scarce. you don’t have endless time like a jury. you must be efficient and get results fast. so make sure you are brief but understandable.
Always maintain sight of the bigger picture. remember what you are trying to do. you are trying to work as a group, to solve a challenge, by using persuasion, communication, and analysis of situations. Your goal is to be friendly but smart. decisive but fair, to listen but to talk as well, to be strong with your opinion but open for ideas.
The idea is that you show the assessors you have the leadership capability, values, and attitude. leadership is very rare. you must be able to focus all your efforts on saying and acting the leadership term.
Be friendly and interactive. only by projecting friendship and a genuine care that you will be able to win followers. you must be a friend in order to get friends. but the key for friendship is interaction. only by interacting you can convince the other members that you are not trying to manipulate them, but to help them solve the case.
Demonstrate assertiveness. assertiveness is the trait that enable one to persuade others and create a strong belief of being right. the way you interact in an assertive manner will decide if you are successful or not on the day.
How to give yourself the best chance to overcome the Group Dynamics:
Be yourself, meaning does not try to be someone’s your not, this is very hard to convey. this is why good actors are getting paid very well and are very hard to find. by trying to be someone you are not, you will find it hard to “fake it” all of the time.
The Group Dynamics is not a competition. by thinking that it is, you might ruin your chances of getting in. if you try to compete by interfering others, and not supporting good ideas, because you think it will make you weak, it will hurt your chances.
Listening is key. in communication exercise always listen as twice as talking. if you are smart you will be able to use the members ideas to your advantage, by elaborating and perfecting those ideas.
Don’t talk just to talk. a word of value is the name of the game. if you will talk and all you have to say is repeating your words or the words of others, that will not get you any closer to getting the Job.
“BUILDING TEAMWORK AND COHESION in Group Dynamics:
Teamwork and cohesion are measures of climate. Willingness to engage in teamwork is the opposite of selfishness. Selfless service is a requirement for effective teamwork. To operate effectively, teams, units, and organizations need to work together for common Army Values and task and mission objectives. Leaders encourage others to work together while promoting group pride in accomplishments. Teamwork is based on a commitment to the group, which in turn is built on trust. Trust is based on expecting that others will act for the team and keep its interests ahead of their own. Leaders have to do the hard work of dealing with breaches in trust, poor team coordination, and outright conflicts. Leaders should take special care in quickly integrating new members into the team with this commitment in mind.
Leaders can shape teams to be cohesive by setting and maintaining high standards. Positive climate exists where good, consistent performance is the norm. This is very different from a climate where perfectionism is the expectation. Team members should feel that a concentrated, honest effort is appreciated even when the results are incomplete. They should feel that their leader recognizes the value in every opportunity as a means to learn and to get better.
Good leaders recognize that reasonable setbacks and failures occur whether the team does everything right or not. Leaders should express the importance of being competent and motivated, but understand that weaknesses exist. Mistakes create opportunities to learn something that may not have been brought to mind.
Soldiers and Army civilians expect to be held to high but realistic standards. In the end, they feel better about themselves when they accomplish their tasks successfully. They gain confidence in leaders who help them achieve standards and lose confidence in leaders who do not know the standards or who fail to demand quality performance. “
***This part is taken from: Army Leadership Competent, Confident, and Agile – OCTOBER 2006 – FM 6-22 (FM 22-100) ****
What the OSB Group Dynamics panel are looking for:
Can you get the group engaged? the best approach here is to identify the focal point of the case. by doing that, you have the right starting point of the discussion at your fingertips.
Can you help the group move forward? the best approach here is to offer business tactics known as “small wins”. small wins mean if there is a way to cut the big problem to small problems, and make the group eliminate small problems that everyone agree upon. this way you are making the problem smaller and smaller.
Can you take an idea from a group member and elaborate on it? the best approach here is to think first if this idea supports your basic understanding of the case. if it does, you must support it, and add on top of it. if it doesn’t, you need to say: that’s a good point, we might find a different angle like …
Can you get the most out of the different talents of the group? here the best approach is to listen and find out what are the unique advantages of the group members. by finding that, you will be able to better “use” them in the Group Dynamics task.
Can you create a structure to the task on hand? the best approach here is to use business tactics of Group Dynamics and assign roles to group members: chair – the person that run the agenda, his role is to engage all the members of the team. the scribe – someone that can efficiently write down summaries of the discussion. the devil advocate. A devil advocate is a person nominated by the Group Dynamics members to disagree but in a smart way. this way the group will not be burned to agree without a real effort to get the best out of the Group Dynamics members.
Can you think on your feet? thinking on your feet means that you can go with the flow of the discussion. not being stuck on your own idea. be able to think how your ideas can congruent with the main topic on the table. the best approach here is to set the main idea first. you do that by pointing the focal point of the case. this will shift the discussion to your table, has you will be the only one in possession of the relevant information.
What the OSB Group Dynamics panel trait are looking for:
Leadership – this is the main point of the Group Dynamics exercise. you must find where the leadership task unfolds in the case and engage the group on that. in the Andes case, the leadership topic is the fact that the group needed to take action and like the leadership term, be dynamic, and make their own future, rather than to wait and rely on someone else.
People skills – in the military and in the business world you can only get results through people. if you can’t engage people and make them follow you, then you can’t be a leader in the ADF. show interest in what others have to say, that will help you to win followers.
Communication – the academic theory behind communication will explain to you what is most important with regards to communication. 7% is your spoken word. 38% is your tonality (the range of the volume strong, soft, stopping, regular and so on) and 55% is your body language (your gestures and the way you use your arms.) you must use this to your advantage and make sure you are being understood. Make sure you understand the point of view of every one of the participants. use body language to support others by nodding and smiling when relevant.
Teamwork – this is your ability to work with others, making sure everyone is contributing to the discussion. try to engage the members that did not contribute to the discussion. ask them constructive questions like: what do you think about? does this make sense to you? may I ask you to tell us your personal opinion on? make sure you treat people with respect at all time.