Anyone who knows me, will be aware that I am not shy in stating my opinion if I think it’s the right thing to do and even if it upsets some other team members. My approach may not always be correct, but over-sanitization of team members’ behaviour can cause problems too.
Recently, as an observer rather than participant, I am aware of the problems that organisations face where their leadership team are, frankly, just too nice to create genuine challenge. The quality of decision-making becomes variable and implementation even more so. People who ‘nod through’ a decision are not necessarily going to be able or willing to argue its merits to their team. Team members who quietly have reservations about a decision may delay, or ignore, its implementation. And worse still they may bottle up their anti-views causing resentment or passive resistance.
Let’s be clear, team dynamics are of course difficult where the behaviour of one or more members leads to conflict, demotivation and the inability to get things done. The converse is also true; the dangers of “Groupthink”, (a term coined by Irving L Janis back in the early 1970s), also need to be understood. Typically, where there is a high emphasis towards group cohesion, members begin to get complacent, respond to peer pressure, consider opinions that differ from theirs as inferior, and there is an assumption that decisions are unanimous because no-one has been willing to rock the boat. Challenge is useful, if it is purposeful, impersonal and managed. Remember assertion not aggression. Its absence does not necessarily indicate an effective team. So Chairs, accept that whilst it may make your lives more tricky welcome the maverick, accept that each team member may not agree and enjoy the richness of discussion and quality of decisions that follow.
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