Effective Leadership Style on Groupthink

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Introduction
A leader is the key element that affects the overall group’s success by inspiring members to collaborate to achieve a common goal. The approach that the leader takes to lead a group (i.e., leadership style) plays a significant role in group decision-making process and decision quality. Effective leadership encourages members’ participation in decision-making process, and promotes cooperation and motivation among group members. On the other hand, ineffective leadership, which lacks impartiality, can be a great risk factor for groupthink; a phenomenon refers to poor decision process and decision quality (Chapman, 2006). Groupthink is undesirable for groups because it is detrimental to group development. In order to demonstrate the effect of leadership style on groupthink, the paper will first explain groupthink and the factors that contribute to this phenomenon; then it will discuss the characteristics of different leadership styles and how they affect group’s decision-making process; and finally it will provide several remedies to guard against groupthink in groups.
Groupthink
Groupthink, a term coined by social psychologist Irving Janis (1972), occurs when the group members strive for consensus at the expense of rational decisions. In other words, groupthink takes place in groups in which the group members’ desire for concurrence becomes more important than evaluating problems and solutions realistically (Chapman, 2006). There are several factors that contribute to groupthink, but the two most important ones are directive (i.e., promotional) leadership and the lack of consideration of alternatives (Ahlfinger & Esser, 2001). If the group’s leader is controlling and promoting his or her favored solution without consul...

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... a significant role in group’s decision-making process and affects the quality of decisions. Participative leadership emphasizes participation of group members in decision-making process for the highest quality and the best solution, and encourages productivity, creativity and motivation of group members. On the contrary, authoritarian leadership prevents considering alternative viewpoints and limits member’s contribution which in turn increases risk for groupthink, causes a decline in group’s productivity and performance, and leads to unmotivated group members. In order to avoid groupthink, there are three important factors to be considered: impartial leadership, group synergy and dialectical inquiry. Adapting these elements would prevent any group from irrational decision-making process and promote collaboration, collectivity, and high quality of group decisions.
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