June 15

What the NBA Finals Can Tell Us About the Dangers of Groupthink!

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By Dr. Jason Carthen

In one of the most competitive and exciting NBA Finals in recent memory, there is a seesaw battle between the Cleveland Cavaliers and the Golden State Warriors. A battle that is promising to go the distance in order to decide who should be crowned champion! However, I want to share with you a key side-story that you might have missed as it relates to leadership.

Dr. Jason Carthen: Dangers of Groupthink

Group Communication

If you listen and watch closely there are some interesting examples of group communication and leadership taking place. For example, in the most recent game five loss by the Cleveland Cavaliers, you could tell the group did not have a response to Golden State’s new line-up and the barrage of 3 point shots by the opposing team other than Lebron James, therefore, the strategy did not change, other options were not explored and ultimately the Cavaliers lost. How is this tied to communication and leadership? Great question and I am glad you asked!

Leadership Development for Success

In the earliest stages of their leadership development, leaders must gain an understanding of how groups function and communicate as they pursue success. If the leader doesn’t have this key ability (or willingness to cultivate it), it limits their ability to gain insight and understanding concerning the group and hampers their ability to make effective and informed decisions for successful outcomes. This inability is caused by what Irving Janis termed “Groupthink” or the individuals in the group going with what they have always done or what the group pressure dictates they should do.

Problem with Groupthink

The problem with Groupthink is that it doesn’t offer alternatives or the best solutions for a challenge, problem or new barrier that needs to be overcome. The Cleveland Cavaliers were visibly shaken by a renewed Golden State Warrior team that changed their strategy and offered a different group dynamic. Instead of adapting on the run, Groupthink dictated the Cavaliers continue to move forward with what they have always done despite a new challenge and barrier that has presented itself… which resulted in a loss and shift in momentum.

At the end of the day, in offices both large and small all over the world, Groupthink is primed and ready to be initiated wherever there is uncertainty, status-quo, fear of failure, and an unwillingness to try something different. The leader’s true test, and greatest answer to avoiding Groupthink is their ability to welcome feedback, open discussion, brain-storming and healthy conflict to introduce the best path forward for individual and organizational success.

Please leave a comment or post on my Facebook Page and share with our community when you have experienced Groupthink, and how you responded. I appreciate each of you!


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