Leadership for Life – Groupthink

By on December 18, 2011

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When I was in graduate school (back in the dim times), several of us who were studying group dynamics came up with a slogan: “Groups are Good!” In the intervening years, I came to understand that workplaces which employ groups and teams to turn out their work need to also be on the lookout for a phenomenon known as Groupthink.

Groupthink happens when ideas and suggestions are adapted without sufficient exploration and challenge, leading to decisions that are not well thought out.

The result of groupthink can be tragedy or disaster, as history has borne out. Think of New Coke, Edsel, Watergate, and Challenger, just for a few very public (and expensive) examples.

Groupthink happens in highly cohesive groups, in which the members feel a strong need to please a charismatic or highly directive leader or maintain a high level of friendliness. In fact, the more team members like each other, or the more committed to the group they feel, the more likely it is that groupthink will occur.

Is your work team at risk for groupthink? To learn more, check out my podcast on groupthink, which provides more detail on how and why it occurs, as well as how to prevent and guard against it. You can listen to it, download it (MP3), or read it at http://www.stlcc.edu/podcasts/business-training/avoiding-groupthink.html.

About Barry Schapiro

Barry is the Workforce Solutions Group Practice Leader for Leadership and Professional Development. His experience includes delivery and management of business training in a variety of industries, with specialties in leadership, team development, generational diversity, and customer service. Twitter