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How to create a culture of diverse thinking

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CEOs have to make dozens of decisions every day. But the path to decision-making isn’t just about getting everyone on the team to agree. Groupthink can creep in when the focus is on consensus rather than problem solving. Groupthink acts as a barrier to creativity, stunts growth, and leaves employees feeling helpless and demotivated. Groupthink-plagued corporate employees are afraid to speak up. They struggle to feel connected to their organization’s mission, work, and ability to make an impact.

I have observed that the best leaders know successful solutions that reflect real discourse and diverse perspectives. They actively work to prevent groupthink from permeating their corporate culture by cultivating the following practices:

Related: How to Stop Groupthink from Ruining Your Business

Surround yourself with people who think differently

This practice prevents groupthink from seeping into the corporate culture. Individuals with unique backgrounds encourage each other to explore distinct possibilities outside the realm of their own experience.


By encouraging open, respectful, and accepting dialogue, great leaders set the tone and make sure everyone in the room feels heard. Those who master listening can create equal space for extroverted and introverted employees in brainstorming sessions and discussions. The best ideas are not always the loudest voices.

Be transparent about bias

this starting from the top. Vistage chairman David Zarfoss once said, “If you’re the smartest person in the room, you’re in the wrong room.” Successful leaders can let go of the limiting belief that their ideas are by default the best and the best. Instead, they are transparent about their existing prejudices and allow others to challenge them as long as they do so in a respectful and thoughtful manner.

Seek input from employees at all levels

It’s easy to be isolated by direct management. Even if they aren’t sitting at the executive table, every employee should feel like they can be heard. Similarly, bouncing ideas off of trusted peers in other industries provides fresh, original insights and protects against biases and biases.

Related: You can’t know what you can’t know unless you listen to diverse voices

learn from mistakes

We know that those who take risks often fail before they succeed. When employees are punished for taking thoughtful risks and failing, they get the message that they shouldn’t take chances. This kills innovation and idea generation.

ask the right questions

Leaders may think it’s their job to attend meetings and pick out the most popular ideas, rather than asking clarifying questions that they really try to understand. A good leader asks his team to describe the possible impact of an idea. Making well-informed decisions requires effort, time, energy, and discernment. Relying on groupthink can be shoddy.

Be curious and foster open dialogue

Management may think their job is to sell and persuade, not to open dialogue. When I first started, I believed that leadership was about coming up with an idea, building a team, and persuading the team to back that idea. Later I learned that it was not the right approach. The most effective leaders remain curious and open the conversation to dialogue and dissent.

In my career, I have continually witnessed the power of diverse thinking. At my previous company, I was presented with an opportunity to expand into software. Our management held an offsite meeting to discuss it, but we all agreed not to pursue it. I asked for it to be reconsidered. He requested a short time frame to meet with his colleagues to develop a proposal for our consideration.Two weeks later, he announced plans to change the future of our company for the better. Did. Come to think of it, it would have taken me a little longer to wrap up a book of great ideas if it weren’t for an individual who sees things a little differently than the rest of our team.

RELATED: True Innovation Starts With Diversity

Great leaders know when to stop collecting data and start making decisions. With so many opinions and perspectives being considered, there’s a point where you have to say, “Thank you. Now that’s all in place. Let’s take some time to think about it, then go back to planning.” Once you have a plan in place, it’s important to re-engage with those who may have been turned down during the process. By acknowledging their contribution and providing insight into the decision, explaining why it was done and what the benefits are, you can encourage people to speak up again in the future. increase.

Diverse thinking, collaboration, and ultimately accountability are encouraged when leaders are transparent about their biases, give their teams space to voice their opinions, and encourage everyone to think about their impact. CEOs who overcome groupthink and leverage different perspectives in the decision-making process lead their organizations to success.