Sometimes I doubt myself.

Sometimes when I am in a group situation we are faced with a difficult problem to solve.  We start discussing it and I start mulling over some possible solutions. I am just thinking about what I would do next in this difficult situation and make a suggestion and then… bang – someone has come up with the solution which is the exact opposite to what I was about to propose and there are nods of agreement around the table and I think, “yeah, they’re right; they know more than me” and I go along with the flow.

I don’t speak up. I quietly accept the status quo and think judgmental thoughts about the person who came up with the response that we are now all following.

Why do I do that? Why don’t I trust what I know more and speak up at the time that people are looking for answers?

I and many others in the group get intimidated by the group bias. We just fall into line.

It is very common for the loudest and quickest voice in the room to dominate the decision making process. They often make a decision on behalf of the group or the team; everyone becomes deflated and we all go along with the flow. It’s often easier not to argue with the dominant person. It becomes the norm.

It doesn’t make them right. It doesn’t mean they have all the answers. It just means that they are often the loudest and they say what they want to say very quickly.

Some of us need time to process the information. We need time to analyse the situation and come up with a solution.

As leaders we need to find ways to give everyone a voice. We need to give the quiet and considerate people in the group an opportunity to respond. We often miss out on so much valuable insight and wisdom when we let first noisy response dominate our thinking.

There are many ways to do this. For example,

  • you can ask your team to silently brainstorm for a few minutes and then discuss their answers in pairs before putting all of the options on the table.
  • Give people prior notice of the issues so that they can come to the meeting prepared.
  • Use software, like Powernoodle, to get people to brainstorm and vote on important decisions without the group bias influencing the decision making process.

As I often say to my clients; do you want a good decision or a fast decision. They’re not usually of the same quality Sometimes slowing everything down will result in a better outcome for everyone.


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