At the core of our work in organisations are a set of leadership practices drawn from over 20 years of experience. The main concepts come from the work of Dr J L Moreno (1889-1974), a pioneer in the study and practice of human relations. Moreno’s methods include Sociometry, Sociodrama, Role Training and Psychodrama.
A Spontaneity Approach to Development
Each person is a creative genius with the capacity to resolve the situations we face, if we can access the roles to do so. Often we are not as resourceful as we’d like to be in the face of uncertainty, ambiguity and relentless change.
A role is the way we respond to situations that face us. However some roles are limited, defensive coping mechanisms whose purpose is to preserve the current situation. The roles that we most need to access are progressive, with no sense of defending oneself, acting with an inner truth and congruence. All roles involve three elements: thought, feeling and action. When these are aligned then there is a congruence about a person and their behaviour.
The questions are: What role are you enacting? Is that the role you need? and How can you intervene in your warm up to access the desired role? Working to develop specific roles in individuals was termed role training by Moreno.
The Significance of Groups
Organisations are set up to structure effort and resources to attain particular goals. But they are made up of people. People enact the vision, people make structures work, people deliver the services, people make agreements and it’s the people who create results. We have each been taught to think that we are individuals, first, who exist in groups. Yet, our group identity is fundamental. Who we are as individuals is only one part of the story.
Every person is born into a group called family, they grow through other groups known as school, peers, sporting clubs, church and other organisations. They learn about who they are through the eyes of others. They find their place in the group, they develop their leadership with other people. This is not always easy. Some groups are oppressive and destructive. Other groups are creative and enabling. The critical role of the leader is to create enough safety in the group to allow the power of a positive group experience to be enabling.
This is highly relevant in working with organizational culture and team development, particularly in managing politics, in unresolved conflicts, with difficult conversations, and in avoidant and aggressive cultures. The study of the interpersonal relations in groups is known as sociometry. The study of the social forces and intergroup relations is known as sociodrama.
Other methods we use that release collective action include Open Space Technology, Appreciative Inquiry and Action Learning.
The Power of Action
Moreno is well known for his action methods. Learning involves all aspects of a person’s being – thought, feeling and action. The use of action is inherently affirming of a person’s capacity to express what matters to them and then to intervene and change aspects of their world. The use of action generates immediacy in training and team development. It quickly clarifies what is happening individually and in a team in relation to its purpose and the way it operates.
Find out more about Moreno and his methods at: