Who carries the most weight in a group dynamic? Is it the most knowledgeable person or is it the person most socially clued in? We have all been to events, whether personal or professional, where certain people seem to dominate the conversations. There is almost an acceptance that by virtue of an outgoing personality that there is also an implied assumption of knowledgeable.
That maybe the case on occasion, but certainly not all the time. Research conducted by Bonner and Bollinger actually suggests that in a setting where everybody is encouraged to contribute, the team effectiveness is far greater; it is driven by what they call “Informational Influence”. This was compared with “Social Influence” whereby the more dominant personalities take control and essentially shut out the quieter ones with a net effect of lower group effectiveness. The key finding is that through purposeful engagement of people within teams via gathering information, there is far greater effectiveness rather than by just hoping that “extraversion and confidence” will productively bring everybody together towards a common outcome.
One should also mindful of what the term informational influence actually means. It is not necessarily referring alone to just tangible data (facts and figures), but considers thoughts, feelings, experiences, gender, race, status and opinions as informational cues as well. This is the true essence of a positive group dynamic.
Leaders, coaches, teachers and parents should be mindful of this. These people tend to have strong personalities and can overly rely on “Social Influence” as they often tend to dominate conversations in pursuit of their desired outcome. However they also need to factor in the importance of the “Informational Influencers” and in so doing build consensus, engagement and accountability.