Leaders to Leader

Lessons from the Great American Leaders & How They Apply Now

Posts Tagged ‘issues

Overcoming and Preventing Groupthink

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Overcoming and preventing groupthink tendencies requires leaders’ constant diligence and continual attention. For constructive thinking to occur within team environments, individuals must possess high degrees of like-mindedness regarding the basic values and mutual respect needed for their teams to succeed. This requires a level of cohesiveness, where personalities become blended and balanced through common missions and purposes.

As leaders attempt to tackle the complicated issues surrounding groupthink, they should be cognizant of the critical evaluator roles all team members assume. They need to understand the constant hazards associated with issues that require rapid action, such as prolonged debates, or with open criticism that potentially leads to damaged feelings, especially when team members resolutely live up to their roles as critical evaluators. Feelings of rejection, depression and anger might be evoked when challenging particular team decisions. This can have a corrosive effect on team morale and working relationships.

It is important for leaders to understand both the negative and positive consequences associated with individual personalities when it comes to dealing with complex groupthink issues. The personality mix of individual team members determines and impacts subsequent team environments and group dynamics. The addition or removal of individual team members tends to greatly impact team environments and their interrelated dynamics.

There are specific strategies to prevent and overcome groupthink tendencies. These can also be implemented when particular individuals are actively decreasing overall team effectiveness.

Create Subgroups

Leaders may need to periodically create subgroups that meet separately under different group leaders to work on the same general team problems. This method creates contrastive team environments with varied personality mixes for arriving at separate conclusions. Once these subgroups have each arrived at a separate consensus, they should all be brought together as a unified team to present their findings and negotiate specific differences.

Consult with Other Associates

Leaders should discuss their teams’ deliberations with trusted associates in their organization. These individuals should possess different expertise, outlooks and values. Once identified, they are expected to make independent evaluations and critiques of team progress. They should be able to offer fresh perspectives and possible solutions that may have been overlooked.

Leaders should then report back to their teams on these in-depth discussions and incorporate newly acquired ideas and recommendations into their teams’ deliberation processes.

Invite Outside Expertise

Leaders should periodically introduce outside expertise into their team environments. This expertise can come from individuals who are trusted associates in their own organizations. They should be selected because of their inherent capacity to grasp new ideas quickly, their ability to identify hidden agendas, their sensitivity to moral and ethical issues and their verbal skills to effectively communicate criticism directly to the teams involved.

Regularly Rotate the Role of Devil’s Advocate

While the role of devil’s advocate is institutionalized in most team environments, leaders should assign the role to a different individual for each team meeting. This rotation gives all team members the opportunity to actively challenge the consensus of the majority at, instead of after, a team meeting.

Spend Time on Surveying Warning Signs

In order to counteract their team’s illusions of invulnerability and tendency to ignore warning signs that interfere with member complacency, leaders may need to make a concerted effort to induce both themselves and team members to pay specific attention to special risks and make appropriate contingency plans accordingly.

Even when team members are assigned specific roles to point out the potential risks that the group needs to consider, they are likely to disregard any warnings if there is a preexisting consensus among the members. Therefore it is critical for leaders to invest time and energy to address specific warning signs that may otherwise go unrecognized because of individual teams succumbing to a groupthink mode.

Holding a Second Consensus Meeting

In order to prevent premature consensus based on feelings of invulnerability, stereotypes and unexamined assumptions, second meetings should be scheduled before individual teams make actual commitments and after they have arrived at their initial consensus. When teams arrive at a consensus, leaders should announce this second meeting, providing individual members with a sufficient amount of time to ponder and reconsider their deliberations, discussions and solutions.

Members should be encouraged to play devil’s advocate and express all residual doubts and rethink entire issues before making any definitive decisions. They should be encouraged to challenge their own arguments and fully disclose and discuss all related risks and objections. Individual team members should present any and all possible objections that have not been previously discussed and explored.

To facilitate discussions, team members should be encouraged to prepare one to two-page documents ahead of time to stimulate open dialogues. These documents need to be collected, copied and disseminated to all team members at the second consensus meeting.

Team secretaries should compile and summarize all key points into a formal document that is given to all members, including the supporting documentation that every individual team member initially provided. This process ensures full disclosure and discussion of all key points, doubts and objections that were not originally brought up prior to the team consensus.


Five Pitfalls Teams Need to Avoid

How Do Know If Your Teams Are Remaining Strong & Productive

Seven Negative Roles & Behaviors Which Undermine Team Performance

Excerpt: Personality Differences within the Team Setting: Pinpoint Leadership Skill Development Training Series (Majorium Business Press, Stevens Point, WI 2011) $ 17.95 USD

Timothy F. Bednarz, Ph.D. | Author | Publisher | Majorium Business Press
Author of Great! What Makes Leaders Great: What They Did, How They Did It and What You Can Learn From It (Finalist – 2011 Foreword Reviews‘ Book of the Year)
Linkedin | Facebook | Twitter | Web| Blog | Catalog |800.654.4935 | 715.342.1018

Copyright © 2013 Timothy F. Bednarz, All Rights Reserved

Written by Timothy F. Bednarz, Ph.D.

January 28, 2013 at 10:39 am

Conflict Is More Than Simply ‘Not Getting Along’

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Conflict is commonplace within any organization. Whenever individuals of diverse interests and backgrounds interact with each other, discord will arise. In some management circles, this friction is viewed negatively; however, when effective conflict resolution techniques are applied, productive agreements can be reached. This strengthens both individual personal relationships and the organization as a whole.

Conflicts should be considered part of the normal business environment. They arise because managers build teams consisting of diverse people with different abilities. This is what brings a sense of balance to the team and facilitates a synergy created by a unit that is greater than the sum of its parts. Yet even when a team is developed with productive synergy, conflict will arise.

The key to effective conflict resolution is to view it as an opportunity, not just as a sign that a problem exists within the organization. A team created with a productive synergy brings many diverse viewpoints and perspectives to a situation or problem. While conflict enters in when these perspectives clash with one another, this is the opportunity to stimulate a healthy debate around the issues and build a consensus.

The problem many managers have is that some individuals loathe conflict and prefer to run from it, which confines them to a play-it-safe world where little is accomplished or learned. Additionally, the conflicts are allowed to fester, resulting in long-term problems that will at some point need resolution.

When managers encounter conflict within their organization, there are four critical factors that they need to be cognizant of to assure that the situation can be resolved successfully. These are:


While conflict presents a healthy opportunity for an organization to grow, all parties involved in the dispute must possess the right attitude if the situation is going to be resolved, which won’t happen without a healthy outlook.

If both parties don’t want to arrive at a resolution, it won’t happen until someone intervenes; however, the conflict can still continue to fester if one or both parties feel the outcome was forced.

Personal Agendas

Often when conflict occurs, personal differences, agendas and feelings about past problems arise and interfere with the resolution. Until all parties are willing to put these issues aside and look beyond them and at common issues and concerns, the conflict will not be resolved.

All parties must ask themselves what is more important to them: clinging to their personal opinions and perceived injuries, or working together to solve a problem or issue that is important to the organization and ultimately to each individual involved in the conflict?


Within the context of conflict resolution, true communication must take place. This process requires doing more than just persuasively arguing for one point of view over another; it requires proactive listening to learn and appreciate the other person’s needs and concerns.

Before any successful resolution can take place, all parties’ needs and concerns must be addressed. Thus, effective communication is the key to effective management and organizational health.

Dedication to the Success of the Relationship

The manager’s goal in conflict resolution must go beyond merely keeping the peace and averting a crisis. Rather, they must foster a productive relationship between the individuals involved in order to build positive momentum.

If managers want this momentum to be successful and enduring, resolution must be dedicated to the success of the relationship, and not to the fulfillment of one group’s wishes over another. All parties must stay focused on what is good for the organization rather than on the quest for power and advancement of their personal agendas.

The key is to face the problem, separate the parties involved from it, and then commit to resolving the matter in a way that meets all participant needs. Conflict can develop into an opportunity for all parties to grow while simultaneously advancing the organization.


How Employees Handle Conflict

The Stronger the Personal Feelings, the Less Likely Any Agreement Will Occur

Unresolved Conflict is Corrosive to Leadership

Excerpt: Conflict Resolution (Majorium Business Press, Stevens Point, WI 2011) $ 17.95 USD

Timothy F. Bednarz, Ph.D. | Author | Publisher | Majorium Business Press
Author of Great! What Makes Leaders Great: What They Did, How They Did It and What You Can Learn From It (Finalist – 2011 Foreword Reviews‘ Book of the Year)
Linkedin | Facebook | Twitter | Web| Blog | Catalog |800.654.4935 | 715.342.1018

Copyright © 2013 Timothy F. Bednarz, All Rights Reserved

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