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Mindful Leadership Now: Eradicating Groupthink and Leading Change

Multi-ethnic group of business persons talking in the office Now more than ever, we need leaders that are comfortable with change, able to pivot quickly and lead through deep listening.  We need our leaders to help us stay calm, tap our inner strengths, and recognize the uniqueness we bring. No matter how much times change, […]

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Multi-ethnic group of business persons talking in the office

Now more than ever, we need leaders that are comfortable with change, able to pivot quickly and lead through deep listening.  We need our leaders to help us stay calm, tap our inner strengths, and recognize the uniqueness we bring.

No matter how much times change, one constant remains and that is the value of strong, values-driven, ethical leadership cannot be underestimated. Leaders who cultivate calm, ignite innovative ideas, and spark creative problem-solving are needed more than ever. But is the sign of a strong leader? Through years of research working with visionary leaders driving change in businesses, start-ups, industries, nonprofits, and corporations, one constant remains the same:  how they deal with challenges makes all the difference in their ability to drive growth and lead innovation.

The most common way I see these skills expressed is their being able to lead well by being adept in le the “Five Challenging C’s.”

The Five Challenging C’s are:

  1. Managing Conflict
  2. Decreasing Chaos
  3. Juggling Complexity
  4. Clearly Communicating
  5. Leading Cultural Competency

Leaders possessing these five skills can demonstrate proficiency through times of great challenges, “pandemic upon pandemic”, and in so doing, they inspire innovation, trust, and solution-based thinking. They also keep their teams calm through the ways they move quickly to set the tone of what is acceptable and not acceptable, in helping people understand how boundaries decrease chaos, and how being diverse and inclusive increase the flow of new ideas, increase profits, and decrease the loss of

issuing a series of regular, clear, and calming communications that serve to decrease ambiguity, panic, and undue alarm.  Not only are they culturally competent, but they typically intuitive and

The ability to not just convey calm but inspire calm in others is gleaned through a combination of talent, skill, and commitment to mindful leadership practices. All good leaders practice accountability by walking the talk and encouraging fresh approaches to old problems.  But only great leaders can admit mistakes, take responsibility, outline a new way of leading, and inspire others to be less defensive and more open to change and innovation.  When a leader models their own mindful non-defensiveness and openness to thinking differently, they, in turn, motivate and inspire their teams to do the same.

A great leader will also practice The Three Mindful C’s:  Critique, Collaboration, and Creativity.  However, until they rule out Groupthink in their organization, it will be difficult to truly see their organizations with clear eyes.

When emotionally intelligent leaders allow critique and disruption of the status quo, they also help eradicate the need for an inner circle of sycophants who, in tandem with the leader’s ego, create the dreaded “Groupthink” that almost always stifles innovation, grassroots leadership, and the implementation of new ideas.  By moving out of the Comfort Zone that Groupthink often provides, the great leader is able to forge ahead by encouraging cross-department collaboration, flatter organizations, and more engaged teams ready willing and able to harness this inspirational energy and creativity for the good of their teammates and the customers they serve.  

What exactly is Groupthink? 

As a dual major in my undergraduate college (Binghamton University), I studied both English, Literature, and Rhetoric as well as Political Science.  In my Rhetoric classes, I studied the use of persuasion, grammar, and logic in speech and writing. I delved deeply into the upside of persuading for the common good, and the downside of using both charisma, flattery, to manipulate the actions of others.

I was intrigued by Aristotle’s three persuasive audience appeals Logos (appealing to the audience’s ability to respond to your main arguments/logic before your big reveal; Pathos (appealing to emotions like love, honor, humor, patriotism, duty, and/or any other emotional appeal that is even more palpable if you know your audience well); and Ethos (appealing to your credentials/ethics as a speaker).

group·think /ˈɡro͞opˌTHiNGk/ noun 1. the practice of thinking or making decisions as a group in a way that discourages creativity or individual responsibility.

In this pandemic era, the way organizations and businesses operate is not constant, but rather changing rapidly, often with differing rules, procedures, and governmental mandates (particularly if operations are in different states and locations). Therefore, great leaders must step up to the challenge with growth (rather than fixed) mindsets. They must answer new questions they may not have pondered previously such as:

  • How can I develop How do I assess my people differently now?
  • What new behaviors, orientations and attributes should I look for?
  • How do I know my people will be the right leaders in this “new normal”?
  • How do I identify, leverage and develop their potential to guide us into the future?
  • How can I help my team work differently and remain engaged in this uncertain, often physically isolated environment?
  • How might the shape of my organization need to change, is it a case of restructuring or reimagining?
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