Group projects: an opportunity for leadership

Sabrina Suen, Opinion Editor

We all know that group projects can go one of two ways. In one scenario, by some obscene miracle, you get paired with competent, reliable and trustworthy teammates who are more than willing to split the work evenly with you. You each do your part and the experience is pleasant, stress free and the project is finished before you know it.
However, the more likely scenario goes something like this: the teacher assigns groups “randomly”, but in your heart you know that she put you with the most incompetent, irresponsible, indolent, and obnoxious people on purpose. But you, as the mature student you are, try to do your best with what you’ve got. You delegate jobs, set up the group Google Doc and pray to every god imaginable that these “teammates” actually follow through.
But let’s be honest, most of us know how this story ends. You end up single handedly doing all the work and slapping the others’ names onto the project in the end for appearances’ sake. But most infuriating of all, after the project is turned in you can see the criticisms floating in the eyes of your teammates.
Controlling. Tyrannical. Doesn’t work well with others. Attitude problems.
Now, to be fair, they’re not entirely wrong, but that simply can’t be helped.
Of course though, this is all a hyperbole. Group projects, like everything in life, are much more nuanced. As much as it pains me to admit, perhaps we “dictatorial group leaders” are as much in the wrong as our “gold-fish-like-teammates” are.
A true leader is one who puts his team before himself. So when someone takes sole control of a project in the name of “being a leader”, he isn’t martyring himself for the greater good of the team, he’s cutting off communication, taking opportunities away from his teammates, and telling the others they aren’t worthy of working together with His Majesty the King of the Group.
This is not only detrimental to the group’s cooperation, but it takes learning opportunities away from the group. You can never expect someone to participate beneficially to the group if you never even give them a chance to prove themselves.
Working with others is more than a social skill; it’s a lifelong tool that will carry you far beyond high school. The professional world is built on teamwork; learning to rely on and trust each other is the foundation for a successful career. No one wants to hire someone who competent but isolated and hostile.
So, it’s time to get off your self-imposed high horse and see the truth. Group projects aren’t just an annoying nuisance invented to make you suffer. They are opportunities for you to learn that in life, you won’t always work with the people you want to, and it’s time to deal with it.