When all is said and done, an executive board or management board are, in essence, a team. For any team leader, the easiest team to build and lead is the one in which all team members naturally get on well with one another. Shared likes, dislikes, views and interests ease the process of establishing rapport and building relationships with reduced likelihood or disagreement and argument. However, effective teams not only need individual members to support one another they also need to be able to challenge one another robustly in order to support one another more effectively.

Unlike lower order teams, where the primary collective output may be more a matter of (say) physical support and or co-operation and or co-ordination, a primary function of executive and senior level management boards is collective decision making. At this level, the phenomena of ‘Group Think’ should be at the forefront of any leader’s mind who is constructing a team at this level, or indeed, at any level where collective decision making is a primary function of the team. The strength of group thinking around problem solving and decision making is that many individual perspectives and strengths can be brought to bear on the issues requiring resolution. A problem examined and scrutinised from multiple points of view drawn from a range of subject matter specialists should enable or facilitate a more substantial and robust solution.

Broadly, Group Think as a decision making and judgement phenomena is where consensus has primacy and prevails over individual thoughts and judgements. In essence, this is when the power of the association with belonging to the group weighs greater in the individuals conscious and subconscious than personal perspectives, thoughts and knowledge. The effect is individual team members normalise their views to that of the collective. Great for harmony and all concerned, especially a strong leader; no arguments and total buy in to what the leader proposes. However; what if the leader’s knowledge and judgement is lacking? How robust is a solution likely to be and what is the likely quality of decision making to be when wrought in such circumstances?

The leader forming an executive or senior management board made up of strong willed, confident and articulate individuals with knowledge, skills and views not shared by him or herself requires significant leadership qualities, not least of all courage and resilience. To drive a business or organisation in the right direction with extremely high personal and collective stakes is difficult and stressful; to expect and want robust challenge in order to do so more effectively is even more difficult and stressful. Given the business environment of today – which is likely to fair better? Those ‘the birds of a feather’ who will undoubtedly get along famously as they crash together, or the bloodied and battered ‘band of brothers’ who invariably emerge stronger and better equipped to deal with life’s most difficult challenges?

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