The following are characteristics displayed by an effective group leader (Bulan & de Leon, 2002).
- The group leader maintains neutrality and does not take sides in the event where two members of the group are in conflict with each other.
- The group leader maintains order. He makes sure that the discussion achieves its main goal by allowing only minor departures from the topic. He also makes sure the members are given equal opportunity to speak and share their thoughts to the group.
- The group leader is understanding. He tries to understand each member and makes sure that they are also understood by everyone in the group. He encourages the shy to voice out their opinions and paraphrases their answers. He prevents the overassertive members from manipulating the discussion. He knows when the group has reached a decision.
Gerald L. Wilson and Michael S. Hanna (1986) identified the roles that members assume in a small group discussion. These are categorized into three roles, namely: task roles, social or maintenance roles, and dysfunctional roles. Task roles help the group accomplish its objectives. Social roles help maintain a positive relationship among the members. Dysfunctional roles are individualistic roles that affect the effectiveness of a group discussion.