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It is not only leaders who need to be challenged, sometimes a courageous follower must challenge the thinking of the whole group. Some groups are difficult to control and need help focusing on the common purpose. Other groups are cohesive; the members closely support each other, giving the group strength.

However, cohesiveness can become a weakness especially if this close support group develops into the need for consensus, regardless of the real objective. The value placed on concurrence supplants the central purpose of the group and becomes its primary, though unstated, agenda. Ideas that conflict with group’s policies and actions are, at best, offered weakly and withdrawn quickly if opposed.

Team members must rise above groupthink, and we must trust ourselves. Trusting ourselves doesn’t mean trusting that we are right but trusting that we are relevant, that our perceptions are keen, that we have verified our facts, that our thoughts are meaningful and important. It is only the individual who can rise above groupthink and help the cohesive group and its leaders test their ideas and actions against reality.

The Bible teaches us that “to have no fear of the one in authority. Then do what is good and you will receive his approval for they are God’s servant for your good.” Often times, we need to pay attention to our inner voice. Courageous followers should periodically encourage a group and its leader to question themselves and ask the relevant questions:

  1. Are we using the right measures for success? Are we relying solely on self-measurement, or are we asking those we serve to evaluate us?
  2. Are pressures to demonstrate performance leading to inflated performance?
  3. And finally, have we become so sure of ourselves that we no longer critically evaluate even risky ideas or pay attention to warning signals?

Author Ray A. Davis said “the tribe often thinks the visionary has turned his back on them. When, in fact, the visionary has simple turned his face to the future.” Let’s become visionary followers for the good of the whole and look to the future to make our job, our family, our society, and our world better. Just remember that because ideas of the group might be different from what we would have chosen, we may feel they have a little chance of success. These are our views. They may or may not be right. So Never Give Up! Never Give Up! Never Give Up!

By Dr. Walter Ghosten