Individual, task and group needs

The functioning of groups in most situations is heavily influenced by the three-way interaction of the needs of individuals, the need to complete the task or activity, and the needs of the group as a whole. Outdoor adventure leaders should have the ability to focus attention on the group as well as the activity, the person as well as the task. They should carefully influence the group to work together toward their goals, while at the same time facilitating the progress of each individual along the path of enjoyment, satisfaction and personal growth.

A useful model for identifying the range of Individual needs within recreational groups is the three interlocking circles shown in Figure 45.1.

Figure 45.1 Interactive nature of needs

Leaders should be aware of the importance and interdependence of all three areas of need, and should ensure that no single area is neglected. The interaction of the three areas of nature of needs need can best be illustrated by two examples. Encouraging individuals by praise, reward or support leads to an enhancement of group morale, which in turn facilitates accomplishment of the task. Coordination of group activities is made easier by the allocation of work and resources which utilise individual talents and skills of group members, which in turn gives them satisfaction.

This model can also be used to show that leadership development which is simply task oriented not only neglects the skills necessary to develop a group to its full capacity, but also fails to make leaders aware of individual and group-building needs. Some key functions in each of the three areas of need are listed in Table 45.1.

Table 45.1 Needs of groups
Individual needsTask needsGroup maintenance needs
Understanding individual needs and motivation to participateDefining the taskPlanning group composition
Recognising basic needs (physical and security)Making a planEncouraging participation
Recognising individual needs, individuals with problemsPossessing competence in all skill areasMaintaining discipline
Recognising and encouraging talent and skills potentialEnsuring necessary equipment is availableFacilitating communication
Creating opportunities for exploring individual interests, training and developmentGiving information, teaching skillsBuilding team spirit, cohesion and trust
Encouraging by praise, reward and supportAllocating work and resourcesSolving interpersonal differences
 Controlling pace and maintaining standardsRelieving tension
 Checking performance against plansBuilding group morale
 Adjusting plans as necessaryTraining the group
 Winding upCoordination of group activities