Groupthink Phenomenon: What it is and how to manage your team

What is groupthink, and how does it affect the team of a business? Where should you focus on increasing teamwork and managing your staff correctly?

Jennie Kamaradou, a work psychologist who specializes in staff management and leadership development, has the answer. But before we come to the solution to a problem, we must understand the problem itself.


What is groupthink?

It is a psychological phenomenon, which occurs when a group of individuals reaches a consensus without critical reasoning or evaluation of the consequences or alternatives. Generally, it is based on a common desire not to upset the balance of a group of people. It happens when the members of a group show a strong willingness to consent to such an extent that they abandon common sense and their personal beliefs.

The members of a group usually give priority to gaining consent from the rest of the group. In fact, in many cases, they are more likely to ignore their thoughts or beliefs in order to be able to adopt the group’s public opinion. This desire to please and blend in creates a dynamic within a group whereby creativity and individuality tend to be stifled in order to avoid conflict. 


When was the term diagnosed and why?

The term groupthink in its modern sense was coined in 1971 by Yale psychologist Irving Janis. Writing in the pages of Psychology Today,  Janis proposed the word as a label to diagnose a previously unknown disorder he saw as interfering with people’s ability to make good decisions in a group setting. 


What are team diversity and diversity management?

Team diversity is a characteristic that comes from whether the team members differ and stand out on a personal, professional, and socio-economic level. That is people with different cultural backgrounds, different lifestyles, interests, etc.

For a successful leader or manager, managing this diversity refers to organizational actions that aim to promote greater integration of employees from different backgrounds into the structure of an organization through specific policies and programs. In response to the growing need for innovation and productivity, organizations set specific diversity management strategies and aim to create teams where the members do not “look alike.” 

Learn how to enhance your leadership behavior.


When does the phenomenon of groupthink appear?

Harmony is seductive, and getting along feels good, so everyone wants to seem like a team player. We all want to be in a team and show that we respect others. But this results in us several times conforming to the prevailing opinion of the team. We suppress our inner doubts and do not express our opinion and point of view enough.

In a team where there is strong groupthink, each works hard to make their own opinion conform to what they believe is the group’s consensus. The satisfaction of belonging to a cohesive group leads people to suppress their thoughts.

This, in turn, helps the loudest voices to overpower the quieter ones, the creative disagreement to be knocked down and in the end, the discussion to be monopolized. The outcome is flawed, sometimes disastrous concerning the decisions made.


Why does it happen?

Groupthink is essentially a bias that afflicts teams. It operates not as a consciously held belief but as an invisible pressure to comply. Which arises spontaneously in the moment, affecting people’s judgment without them even knowing they’re being affected.

In other words, it is an unconscious prejudice – and that’s what makes it so dangerous. Any team that makes decisions as a group is vulnerable to groupthink. Fortunately, there is an antidote: it is called diversity.


How can diversity help decrease groupthink?

Studies show that diverse teams are smarter consistently outperforming homogeneous teams, especially on creative, nonlinear, or complex tasks. 

That’s because being part of a group that’s getting along feels pleasurable. When you’re in a homogeneous group and spirits are high, you’re not going to feel like turning to the person next to you and telling them they’re wrong. It feels more important to keep the momentum going. But, for creating innovative ideas, it’s important to be in healthy opposition to opinions and views.


Why are diverse teams smarter?

That’s where diversity comes in. Diverse teams are smarter precisely because they feel more uncomfortable. 

When you bring dissimilar people together, it upsets the equilibrium and can even cause friction and tension. But that discomfort is what prevents the group from lapsing into an unreasoning consensus. Instead, the group assesses information more carefully and makes more thoughtful, more balanced decisions. In the end, diversity can make getting along more complicated — and that’s precisely why it’s so helpful.


What should I do with my existing team?

Managing staff in a business is a demanding process. Consider that if the dynamics of your existing team are intense and there are many contradictions, consider that you have good “material” to work with. The effort you need to put in is to create a communication flow that includes equal respect and inclusion. 

If the dynamics in your existing team are harmonious, it might be a good idea to mix the group up a bit by adding people who have a diversified way of thinking.

“In a diverse team inclusion is key.”

While diversity is the representation of differences, equal inclusion refers to the use of this diversity within organizational efforts. For everyone to bring their best forward, must first establish a sense of belonging. Having a connection to an organization or group of people that make you feel you can be yourself not only results in greater engagement and creativity in the workplace, but it’s also a psychological need.


Strong leadership enables diversity and inclusion

Diversity and inclusion are often treated as theories. But for real change to happen, every individual leader or manager needs to buy into the value of belonging, both intellectually and emotionally, and create the right processes to implement them.

Learn about the most basic types of leadership.

If you have the proper knowledge and have identified your professional leadership style, you will be able to create a team that will contribute to the development of your business. To achieve this, you can take the Quintax Psychometric Test, which will even give you solutions tailored to your needs.


If your goal is better staff management and increasing teamwork and productivity, contact us at or book a free consultation with Jennie Kamaradou to develop your leadership skills.