In principle, energy in a group is like current in a river. Sometimes it flows strong in a specific direction with all group members feeling strongly about the same thing. It might be huge, shared enthusiasm. It might be huge, shared anger. Sometimes group energy is virtually stagnant or almost undetectable. Sometimes it is turbulent with opposing and complex swirling currents.
Like group energy, you can’t change a river’s current with the flip of a switch. At best you can hold it up briefly or redirect it, but strong currents cannot be eliminated. The energy has to go somewhere.
Practical Tip: When trying to lead a group with a strong current work with the group energy and not against it. At best, redirect group energy in helpful ways; ways that work incrementally towards group objectives. Work with the group’s most energetic people and encourage slight changes of course.
If a group is stagnant or turbulent and you want to get them moving in a shared direction, do so by offering a way forward. Make a compelling suggestion rather than a punitive threat.
Maintain credibility. Do not offend. Go with the flow.
– Craig Freshley