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Rudden, M.G. Twemlow, S. Ackerman, S. (2008). Leadership and Regressive Group Processes: A Pilot Study. Int. J. Psycho-Anal., 89(5):993-1010.

(2008). International Journal of Psycho-Analysis, 89(5):993-1010

Interdisciplinary Studies

Leadership and Regressive Group Processes: A Pilot Study

Marie G. Rudden, Stuart Twemlow and Steven Ackerman

(Final version accepted 8 April 2008)

Various perspectives on leadership within the psychoanalytic, organizational and sociobiological literature are reviewed, with particular attention to research studies in these areas. Hypotheses are offered about what makes an effective leader: her ability to structure tasks well in order to avoid destructive regressions, to make constructive use of the omni-present regressive energies in group life, and to redirect regressions when they occur. Systematic qualitative observations of three videotaped sessions each from N = 18 medical staff work groups at an urban medical center are discussed, as is the utility of a scale, the Leadership and Group Regressions Scale (LGRS), that attempts to operationalize the hypotheses. Analyzing the tapes qualitatively, it was noteworthy that at times (in N = 6 groups), the nominal leader of the group did not prove to be the actual, working leader. Quantitatively, a significant correlation was seen between leaders’ LGRS scores and the group's satisfactory completion of their quantitative goals (p = 0.007) and ability to sustain the goals (p = 0.04), when the score of the person who met criteria for group leadership was used.

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