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MISTAKEN ASSUMPTIONS
ABOUT LEADERLESS GROUPS

Candidates assume (mistakenly) that the assessors in a leaderless group discussion are looking for a group leader to emerge.  As a result, candidates take on various roles in an attempt to exert some influence over the group.  A common role is that of a group moderator.  This role is neither positive nor negative by itself.  It would be regarded as positive if the group lacked direction or strayed far from its original goal.  On the other hand, if the group is doing well at, say, idea generation, then a moderator might inhibit valuable input from other group members.  Assessors who observe this would rate this person much lower.

Some candidates will attempt to control a leaderless group discussion and thereby assume that they are "leaders" by acting in the role of a timekeeper or secretary.  Just as with the moderator role, these other roles may or may not be regarded by the assessors as positive.  It all depends on whether the group needs such roles to accomplish its task.

My advice to candidates who are placed in a leaderless group discussion is to forget about what you may have heard about "how to act" and evaluate the needs and goals of the group as it exists for that particular situation.

Another common problem encountered in group discussions occurs when the candidates are familiar with one another, as often happens in fire service promotional testing.  The problem is that the participants bring to the group all their previous assumptions, opinions, role relationships, and attitudes about the other group members.  If one participant, for example, has established himself as an "intellectual" or a "negotiator," other group members may quickly turn to him for problem solving or conflict mediation.

The solution here is the same as before.  Unfortunately, it is more difficult to accomplish.  As a participant, try to go beyond your previously established opinions and feelings about other group members.  Regard them in the same light as the assessors, who should have no prior assumptions about the candidates' particular strengths or weaknesses.

Assessors who are observing a leaderless group discussion are more interested in who can get their points across and not in who takes control of the group.  In terms of evaluating a candidate's ability to get a point across, assessors are looking for someone whose ideas are understandable (that is, communicated well) and accepted (that is, convincing).

To accomplish this, you, as a group participant, need to think through your ideas in a logical fashion so that, when presented to the other group members, your ideas come across as complete.  When presenting your ideas to the group, do not abandon your logic for emotional appeals.  Use examples and tie your ideas or comments to experiences with which all the participants can relate.  And remember, while this, like all assessment center exercises, is designed to be competitive, an individual who can draw out the best in others, who can seek compromise, who can evaluate without criticism, will appear as a shining start in a leaderless group discussion.

If you would like to review additional promotional exam prep packages, go to our Assessment Center Exam Prep pages at the links below:

Promotional Oral Interview Exam Prep

Fire Tactical Exam Prep

Subordinate Counseling Exam Prep

Lieutenant/Captain/Battalion/Deputy Chief In-Basket Exam Prep

Leaderless Group Exam Prep

Test-taking Strategies & Career Articles

Don McNea Fire School's Assessment Center Exam Preparation has been put together by Fire Chiefs who are nationally-recognized authors and who have been assessors for thousands of assessment center examinations.

As always, all of our Assessment Center Exam Prep products come with a no-risk guarantee.  If you are not completely satisfied, we will refund 100% of the product cost no questions asked.

 

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