Business, Leadership, Let's Talk Business

Why Can’t Everyone Just Think Like Me?

By , October 28, 2015

Groupthink is a problem that can affect both our professional and personal lives, and it’s important to exercise caution.

If you’re like most people, you’ve probably found yourself saying or thinking along these lines every so often. After all, life is so much simpler when everybody around you thinks and acts the same way.

Genuine leaders, however, know a little secret: Wanting everybody to agree with you is the worst possible mindset to have.

You’ve got to understand the value of listening to and encouraging opinions besides your own. Take a look at what the legendary Abraham Lincoln did to prove this point.

Upon being elected as President in 1860, Abraham Lincoln’s first order of business was to assemble his Cabinet, his inner circle. To everybody’s great surprise, Lincoln did not surround himself with loyal supporters or like-minded colleagues. Instead, he appointed his 3 primary opponents – the very politicians whom he’d beaten for the presidential nomination. Keep in mind, these 3 opponents had spent months campaigning against him and ridiculing his political views. But Lincoln went ahead and appointed them as members of the presidential Cabinet.

Abraham Lincoln understood the power of having different opinions – and the perils of groupthink. He knew that he and his opponents had a shared goal of making the United States of America a better place. Having a variety of different perspectives on hand would only help that goal be realized, not hinder it. And in time, his opponents grew to respect him because of his foresight.

But how many of us are bold enough to think like that? Unfortunately, the let’s-share-the-same-mindset-mentality is all too common.

How many times have we seen countless celebrities, political figures, executives and many others who have squandered so much all because they refused to listen to others?

They all had the same problem: They avoided surrounding themselves with people who would respectfully challenge them and provide other opinions.

Instead, they surrounded themselves with a bunch of like-minded yes-people.

Groupthink, the term used to describe this phenomenon, is a problem that can affect both our professional and personal lives, and it’s important to exercise caution.

As executives, managers, and colleagues, it’s tempting to surround ourselves with those who will just nod and agree with whatever we say. As parents, spouses, children or friends, we are often hesitant to hear a different opinion or accept rebuke.

And that’s where the problems begin.

So while we want everyone to agree with us, we also want to be successful and motivated. Here are a few Ptex Practical Pointers to help us stay grounded and set us up to achieve lasting success:

Create Trusting Environments: It’s imperative to create an atmosphere that doesn’t just tolerate, but encourages, those around you to voice their thoughts and opinions – even if those thoughts and opinions dramatically differ with yours.

Start Hanging Out: Surround yourself with other people who will not only challenge you, but also motivate you to continuously reach new levels and explore new avenues of thought.

Find the Missing Link: Your employees and colleagues all have their strengths and weaknesses.  When looking to hire, don’t look for the same-old, same-old. Hire people that will complement you and your team’s skills.

Abraham Lincoln preached this outlook way back in 1860; it remains just as relevant and true as we near the end of 2015.

Remember… as important as it is to listen to the opinions of others, it’s even more critical for everyone to be on the same page. That page, however, should be comprised of words other than your own.

Onward and upward,

Meny Hoffman

Meny Hoffman

Meny Hoffman is the Chief Executive Officer of Ptex Group, an Inc. 500/5000-ranked marketing and business services firm headquartered in Brooklyn, NY.

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