One aspect of good leader development is growing the ability to be a sociometrist.
A recent article in the Harvard Business Review made reference to Social Network Analysis (SNA) as a means to increase collaboration in the workplace. SNA is a descendant of the work of Dr. Jakob Moreno.
In the 1930s, Moreno pioneered the systematic recording and analysis of social interaction in small groups, especially classrooms and work groups. He termed this work ‘sociometry’.
He defined sociometry as “the inquiry into the evolution and organization of groups and the position of individuals within them.” He goes on to write “As the …science of group organization, it attacks the problem not from the outer structure of the group, the group surface, but from the inner structure. “Sociometric explorations reveal the hidden structures that give a group its form: the alliances, the subgroups, the hidden beliefs, the forbidden agendas, the ideological agreements, the ‘stars’ of the show”. What this means for workplaces is that when sociometry is applied, what has been covert now becomes overt. The social choices and social ties that lie beneath the company structure become apparent. Just because someone is in your team doesn’t necessarily mean that the REAL relationship you have with them is sound. Command and control has had its day; a big part of modern effective leadership is developing good, authentic relationships with your team, your peers and your bosses and this, for me, implies growing your ability as a sociometrist.
Sociometry tells us that the quality of an outcome will be determined by the quality of the relationships between the people working towards that outcome. In order to bring what lies hidden into the light, action (or applied) sociometry can be used. When a thoughtfully and strategically applied range of sociometric devices are used in action, real time shifts in the relationships between people occur. These shifts effect shifts in workplace outcomes, which translates to the bottom line.
Action sociometry, in conjunction with role training and sociodrama, facilitate the kind of robust and authentic human encounter that effective workplaces exhibit. To quote a previous client of ours, this suite of methods feels like “teambuilding with intellect” because they catalyse specific organisational outcomes, such as ‘growing the confidence of team leaders’ or ‘living the values of the company’, with the added side effect of uncovering and deepening the workplace relationships needed to achieve these outcomes. These human technologies enhance people’s ability to relate better at work, to extend their abilities to role reverse with others (a deeper and more holistic phenomenon than empathy), to understand and value diversity in the workplace.