Ways Groupthink Leads to Team Failure
When considering what groupthink is and why it occurs, it is easy to identify how groupthink can lead to team failure. The two most obvious ways include conformity and submission.
When a team member conforms to the majority, he or she is sacrificing his or her own involvement in the team’s decision-making process. This leads to team failure in two significant ways. First, the team becomes very one-sided and close-minded, which limits the ability to forecast potential problems and thoroughly evaluate necessary solutions. Second, conformity reduces the individuality and diversity necessary for effective teamwork.
When a team member suppresses his or her own opinions to preserve group harmony, the team member is being peer pressured into submission. Submission negatively influences team success by creating an atmosphere of dominance rather than mutual accountability and teamwork, which is necessary for teams to be successful and thrive. Second, submission leads to individual feelings of worthlessness and apathy toward team goals, which can be detrimental to team spirit, cooperative engagements, and overall workplace and employee satisfaction.
In addition to the obvious influences that groupthink has on team success, groupthink also limits a team’s ability to grow and develop into a high-functioning team. When a group is unable to healthily consider minority viewpoints, the team eventually becomes dysfunctional and cannot effectively complete the decision-making process, which includes weighing alternative solutions in hopes of choosing the best option. This suppression of opposing viewpoints eventually leads to irrational and unsound decisions, which tend to be more extreme, radical, and dangerous to the functionality, well-being, and longevity of the team.