This is part 7 of a blog series called Leading a Small Group.
It is a weird thing, a small group. You show up to someone’s house and sit in their living room with people you have just met and you discuss things you don’t normally discuss in groups of people you’ve just met.
If some awkwardness, particularly with a new group, is a given then don’t add to it.
Manage your expectations a bit and realize that in your first few meetings you probably won’t have the best discussion. It takes a bit for people to warm up in these situations. They have to know this is a safe place.
It may be a legend but I’ve heard that penguins will push a few off an iceberg into the water to check for predators. Now maybe penguins just move slow but the analogy fits. Those in your group who had to get up the nerve to come to this group want someone else to go first. If ever there is an appropriate time for the leader to share more than listen it is in those first few times you meet, just don’t get too comfortable listening to your own voice.
When I was a kid I was scared of UFO’s. Hey we all have our thing right? Well one morning I started to overcome that fear when I overheard a conversation with my mom and dad. Basically they were talking about how ridiculous it was for me to be afraid of aliens. Hearing them acknowledge the absurdity of my fear helped me overcome it.
As the leader you can call out the awkwardness. Make a bit of fun of it. Run through the most ridiculous worse case scenario you can come up with, something that ends with public scorn and community banishment. Let people see that we are all in this together and all sense the awkwardness.
As the leader don’t add to the power awkwardness has in holding your group back, take that power away by holding a mirror to it.
Protect the Group
Have you ever been at church, classroom, or conference listening to someone speak and someone in the audience becomes disruptive? They won’t quit asking questions, they are trying to pick an argument with the speaker, or they continually do something distracting; whatever it is the awkwardness is palatable.
Everyone in the room wants it stop and everyone in the room is waiting for the person at the front, the leader to put a stop to it.
As you lead a group there will be awkward moments and those people in the group will look to you to address it.
The domineering group member.
A “topper” who always has a better story.
Griper/Gossip using this time to complain about something.
Political Guy or Gal.
“Woe is me” person.
All these people and many others can derail a group with the awkwardness and if you don’t address it everyone else will suddenly have a schedule conflict with group.
Don’t be afraid to call a problem out, you are the leader and everyone is expecting the leader to lead. You aren’t being mean or rude, you are protecting the group.