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Bridging Divides Through Superordinate Groups

by Alan Daniel

There’s a continuous sense of unrest in the world today, and it seems to be exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic

For instance, we see COVIDIOTS VS. Maskholes, water scarcity, rising inequality, increasing protests, high unemployment in places like the United States, runaway inflation in Venezuela, Lebonan, and Zimbabwe and other countries as well among a slew of other real problems.

In such a time of real need and suffering, division grows, strife takes place, and wealth destruction occurs due to lost productivity. These divisions create even more problems, and a potential downward cycle ensues, drawing in more into the conflict.

We can see such examples of conflict in work environments and on a larger scale through World Wars. According to those that subscribe to the realistic group conflict theory, the division occurs due to a mixture of actual problems and identity politics.

The primary solution to minimizing strife and maximizing collaboration is creating a superordinate group and following specific principles.

What is a superordinate group?

A superordinate group is a team that perceives themselves to be working on a critical and complex objective. 

As a result of this belief, they will overcome petty politics and regular issues to strive to achieve their vital mission. 

These individuals must act in an elite manner to accomplish their goals and objectives. One crucial component is that they believe they are working toward a purpose that is highly important and requires a sense of urgency. Of course, such an objective would have more defined milestones and require the utmost focus.

Further, a superordinate group would have specific dynamics at play. 

These dynamics in the superordinate group are present below:

  • Creating a shared sense of us
  • Representing us
  • Advancing Us
  • Embedding a sense of us

Here’s what creating a shared sense of us requires:

  • creating the culture in a way where everyone feels like they are a part of the group and essential to meeting the goals.
  • establishing shared values and ideals

Then there’s the idea of implementing and living those values in representing us:

  • people within the group take actions, interact, and make decisions on a shared set of values and ideals.

The next step is advancing us:

  • This is where people are continuing to find ways to further the group and are motivated to take action to do so regularly.

Finally, there’s embedding a sense of us:

  • this last step is an amalgam of the previous steps and occurs as the group instills the values in themselves and new people, and the values continue to perpetuate creating structures that unite organizations. 
  • Embedding a sense of us requires organizational systems and processes that point toward meeting the specific goals. 

The idea here is to get past silos and work toward urgent, highly essential goals. Such a task requires compelling leaders who possess the right interpersonal skills and emotional intelligence to maneuver through conflicts and negate potential divides.

We can use these principles at home, at work, and on a global scale. That’s why space missions and other larger events can be inspiring. They help to overcome the divides and present great feats that humanity achieves through collaboration.

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