So, in the context of an organisation, what is a coterie and why are they harmful?
Coterie noun a small group of people with shared interests, often one that does not want other people to join them ( Cambridge Dictionary)
What is the difference between a coterie and a group ?
Group: a leader needs to work with a comparitively smaller number of associates, to manage a larger function, business unit or organisation. So, a group is a team of people who get together to achieve some common goals, company objectives or functions.
A coterie, on the other hand, is more like a self-serving clique. It is also a smaller group of associates, but one that chooses to stay close to the leader, mostly to protect their own self interests.
How to recognise a coterie ?
- By themselves, coterie members are usually competent, capable professionals
- In front of the leader, they become servile, behaving at best like a fan-boy (or girl) and at worst, like a groupie ready to carry out the boss’s every command
- Almost never contradicts a leader in public, even when the leader makes a less than clever suggestion or unworkable request
- Even when the leader apparently solicits open or transparent feedback, the coterie member will usually trot out the default party line or the leader’s preferred position
- In private, a coterie member might accept these charges and acknowledge their helplessness, but in public they prefer discretion
Why leaders should discourage coteries and promote open and transparent groups
A coterie can be damaging to the well-being of an organisation, by making the leader less effective. A leader, any leader, will make some mistakes over a period of time , as a result of being a decision maker.
A leader who actively promotes and tolerates a coterie will suffer from the echo chamber effect that a coterie provides, never getting valuable , unvarnished and honest feedback that might have allowed the leader to course correct.
Originally published on LinkedIn: