Managing and leveraging Groupthink is a lost or dying art.
When was the last time you were part of a Groupthink event? When was the last time you used Groupthink to build team cohesion and drive performance?
Everyone has been part of a Groupthink event – it is human nature. Just think about a sports event, a social group, a party at University, or a community event. Groupthink is intrinsic to human behaviour. It is also a powerful team leading and team building tool.
Typically, the word is used as a complaint for negative situations, but positive cases might include a group atmosphere of high morale or confidence, like a workgroup that really believes in the quality of their project or product.
As business leaders we should seek to foster positive Groupthink behaviour. How?
It begins with developing team diversity. Diversity in thinking and therefore perspectives. An inclusive diverse team can be scary good! By encouraging cross thinking and openness to new concepts you enable a team to feel empowered. This sense of empowerment to achieve the named task or goals is a key element.
The group starts with the individual
You have to ensure that each team player feels valued by you as their leader. They need to have their ideas heard and their contributions valued. Managing the value of the individual is key to positive Groupthink. Others will observe that the individual is valued and they will develop a sense of loyalty to each other under the leadership structure. A positive individual perspective is a surprising key to group strength and confidence.
Investing time in your team’s development will typically yield great results. A team that is knit together will begin to feel stronger together. A Monday morning Smurf Gun war, a silly department Mascot, or a call to battle with a “competing” department are all team building events that take limited time but yield stronger teams.
As the team leader you have to have fierce loyalty to your team. That doesn’t mean hard decisions can’t or shouldn’t be made. If they are for the right reasons the team will see that and support you. Your attitude as a leader will shape the team.
I had a team that was fractured. It had the normal mix of hot shots, hard workers, socially outgoing, and socially shunned. I spent time getting to know each of them and earning their trust. Then I began asking them what they would do if they were me. To my delight, the most shy and least accepted team member had been thinking deeply about our processes and work outcomes. He had great insights that shaped the business performance. And the other team members recognized his good contribution. They became a strong unified team working independent of close supervision. A win for everyone.
How about you? When have you experienced positive Groupthink? What ideas do you have for building good Groupthink?