So, you may not be familiar with the term "Groupthink"; it is a term developed by social psychologists. It was identified back in the 1970s, which found that small groups of individuals usually in leadership tend to be "like-minded" individuals. It's an underlining issue in the recruiting industry. It establishes as the norm to make decisions within that group. It is ignored and not identified as a problem, and it is then because of a systematic behavior that leads to unequipped leaders. These bad decisions tend to ignore their direct / team challenges, ideas, experiences, etc. This behavior is hidden and never really addressed.
Let me break down some characteristics of leadership groupthink within the recruiting industry:
- Invulnerability recruiting leadership tends to find an inflated sense of optimism and illusion of invulnerability. As we all agree, here is a false feeling of self-worth and importance. So, although the idea may be a bad one, nobody voices their reservations, and you know we all have reservations. Leaders with the concept tend to believe they have added value and have made a significant contribution.
- Foundation is when a decision has been decided, followed by the course of action. However, the leadership may discover evidence, warnings, or other forms of negative feedback which would consider a rethink of the previous decision.
- Morality within teams, when the groupthink follows each other, there is an inclination to value the group ahead of ethical or moral consequences of their teams. The need to conform can be more substantial instead encourage innovative thinking.
- The leadership can mistreat and lack trust in those who do not conform. In a way, it's a bit like a mean girl syndrome. So, anyone outside or who doesn't work is in for a rough time. It only helps to cement the power of conformity within the group, sad.
- Groupthink is so that the group's balance is maintained, usually happens when there is a forceful personality among leadership. In a groupthink situation, leaders tend to conform by being pressured into the agreed process. Going with the flow is another way of thinking about "groupthink," inserting different proposal options based on their teams' experiences and real-time data. In a groupthink setting, there is usually one who is a know-it and those that won't push back or question the direction of the conversation and not ruffle feathers, interrupted, and unable to get their point across.
- Self-censorship, those who gravitate toward group-thinking tend to keep doubts about themselves under self-censorship. Groupthink happens to many new leaders trying to prove themselves as good leaders; instead of challenging their managers, they go along and do not challenge their leaders, which trickles down to a more "group thinking" mindset. Reservations and negatives quiet to conform.
- Impression of unanimity of groupthink tends to believe that the group is unanimous. In other words, everyone agrees – even though that is unlikely to be the case. It's easier to agree than disagree.
Look, we make bad decisions. It's part of our job, and we are humans first; however, we need to start addressing groupthink leadership and removing the "one-size" fits. Look, group-thinking leads to bad decisions because it incites recruiting leaders to ignore potential issues with the group's findings and visions, leading to disconnect, distrust, and lack of innovation in their teams who are doing the job. When recruiting leaders become comfortable with each other, with similar backgrounds, or lack influence knowledge from our recruiting communities and information, the mindset of groupthink can be the ROADBLOCK that we try to identify but forget that we could be the biggest block.
Groupthink is especially dangerous in our recruiting industry, where cohesiveness is linked to metric rewards and personal advancements based on competitiveness within our industry – some say competition is healthy. Others say why have competition when you have a team that should be working together. Most executive coaches share that groups often make internal value judgments that are unfair to those they lead. When this happens, though, there are few consequences because there's little accountability to anyone within leadership "groupthink."
Leadership teams that have developed a strong groupthink may feel comfortable deciding in seclusion, believing they have all the answers and never allow their challenges to the leadership decisions on the team's success. Essentially, in a groupthink, any viewpoints that may contradict the group's consensus are self-censored to preserve cohesiveness. This behavior in our industry is dangerous and yet, comfortable. It's hurting our industry, and we need to start focusing on the system and not end the game.