Thoughts on Group Dynamics

As a follow up to this post, I’m doing much better (thank you for asking. :-).

Y’all may or may not know that I am the primary leader of a coven that has been in existence (in one form or another) since 2000. Back when I found out I had cancer I (of course) reached out to everyone in the group and was very forthright about the fact that I was really going to not be doing much leading. The group said, in effect, we’ll keep it going.

Or so I thought.

It turns out that the newer members though my High Priest would step up and take over my duties and go forward. He thought he would do some things, but not all. Furthermore, he felt that since he was going to be channeling the energy of a large number of people towards me for my use during cancer time, he wasn’t always going to be able to do what the group might need.

A lot of expectations were formed. A lot of expectations were never discussed. So, we made plans, and then I’d be unable to attend. I thought they were meeting on their own and going forward without me. I didn’t follow up, trusting them to be doing what I expected, and being just a wee bit distracted.

The bad news I refer to in that earlier post is that one of the members of my group was frustrated by how the group was dealing in my (essential) absence. Missed rituals, rituals canceled at the last minute, the lack of conversation amongst members, the lack of leadership by my HP, and the fact that I didn’t help out with advanced lessons like I said I would. All of these things really bothered her. She felt let down and like the group was going nowhere, like it was too-dependent on me to make things happen because no one would make things happen other than me.

All of those criticisms are 100% valid and true. Eventually she decided that she’d had enough and she decided to leave.

In leaving, she shared her reasons and she declined to let us try to fix the problems so that JaguarMoon would be a better group, one that would be worthy of her time and attention.

That is why I felt bad: I felt like I’d failed as a leader (and I had to a certain degree) because I hadn’t done enough checking in and hadn’t done enough to make sure that people felt they could step up and take over things in my absence. That they were doing rituals and developing lessons and that they were talking without me.

Our expectations — all of us — were based on our internal perspectives, not reality. And in never being shared, they doomed us to frustration.

So last week my coven met and I shared her critique, and we all owned up to it. (I’m so proud of my group.) We didn’t debate whether she was right, we sucked it up and said “yup, we failed.” Then we said “how do we fix this?” and we started working on that. It took several meetings, because we didn’t want to rush through it and overlook something. We all weighed in. We asked questions. We talked.

In the end, we each shared our expectations. For ourselves, for the group, and for the future. We have a conversation coming up about specific roles within the coven and our expectations for those roles.

Now, we have clarity, and a living document to refer to and change as time goes on and new members come and go. Now, we know we can talk to one another when we aren’t meeting expectations. Now, we know how to work out what to do to get there or how we have to change the expectations to better reflect a new reality.

So, I was sad. But then the members of JaguarMoon came together and did what a good group does and we’re moving forward once again.

2 thoughts on “Thoughts on Group Dynamics

  1. Cosette

    Congratulations on successfully emerging from a difficult process. All covens go through that I’m sure, but it can be the kind of thing that leads to groups falling apart. I’m sure you’ll be stronger for it. It’s too bad your coven member couldn’t stay to see it through.

  2. lisa Post author

    Thanks! My group has gone through several difficult times in its 10-year history. Each one is unique, each one is challenging, each one has made us stronger. This time around, complacency was our doom — we thought we were doing great, but we were only coasting. The rewards are so fulfilling. Its why I continue to work with a group rather than solitary — NOTHING gives us so much challenge as workign with others.

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