What are the implications of cognitive dissonance for leadership?

Cognitive dissonance is a known factor that influences the emotional state of individuals. In addition, for leaders, it also has an adverse impact on decision-making capacity, both as a result of the weakening of trust and because of the internal conflict of values that alters the clarity of the decision. In addition, for leaders, it also impairs decision-making capacity, both as a result of the weakening of trust and because of the internal conflict of values that disturbs the clarity of the decision. In the same way, cognitive dissonance influences trust between the leader and the members of his team.

On the conscious level, it introduces uncertainty by confusing communication. On a subconscious level, it can create an impression of insincerity and exacerbate or trigger interpersonal problems within the team. Simply put, cognitive dissonance has a profound negative effect on the team entrusting an affected leader. According to cognitive dissonance theory, the more important the topic and the greater the gap between beliefs, the greater the dissonance between people.

It is essential that leaders understand this because culture is a very important issue within an organization. There are inherently large gaps in beliefs at the personal, team and organizational levels related to this culture. Individual beliefs about power and privilege in relation to gender inequality, racial inequity, generational differences, ability and disability, sexual orientation, religion, etc., should be explored in organizations and among leaders. If we don't talk about dissonance, leaders will continue to hire workers who (a) feel uncomfortable talking about culture and diversity, (b) continue to behave inappropriately, (c) accept culture from the outside but don't align diversity with their beliefs, and (d) feel that all they need are the “right tools” or the “right answers” to be culturally competent.

Cognitive dissonance in the workplace is common and is a major cause of stress for professionals working in organizational support functions, such as risk management and human resources. Second, the lack of a well-established theoretical basis (apart from extensive information on cognitive dissonance theory in general) requires the use of open-ended questions that can provide more information but require more time to analyze them. The purpose of this study is to establish a connection between internal conflict and cognitive dissonance in leaders, to determine its effects on leaders' teams, and to outline approaches that could minimize the effects through conscious effort. As detailed in the literature review, the topic of cognitive dissonance as a result of internal conflict is widely represented in contemporary literature.

The discomfort resulting from cognitive dissonance is observed regardless of the possibility of undesirable consequences. When it comes to cognitive dissonance in the workplace, the first and most important step in dealing with DC-induced stress should be an internal analysis based on an individual interval of control, operational structure, and a relationship of positional responsibility, responsibility and authority. Since they're expected to inspire your team to participate in activities that don't necessarily match their beliefs and values, the chance of developing cognitive dissonance in the process increases even more. Since its introduction by Festinger, the concept of cognitive dissonance has become an important part of organizational culture.

For example, a study conducted by Dechawatanapaisal and Siengthai (200) explored the effect of cognitive dissonance in the workplace. Over time, if left unaddressed, most cases of chronic cognitive dissonance will cause people to leave organizations. In addition, certain areas, such as cognitive dissonance in leaders, continue to be ignored despite their apparent importance to the organization. Employees who suffer from cognitive dissonance often alienate themselves and others, and disconnect from the key organizational processes they were intended to support and promote.

Of the few researchers who approached the theoretical background of cognitive dissonance responsibly, most have only a marginal connection to the area of leadership. Cognitive dissonance theory (CD) describes a condition of stress or a sense of inner discomfort caused by contradictory ideas, values, beliefs, or practices. Since its introduction by Festinger, the concept of cognitive dissonance has received wide recognition in multiple fields related to human behavioral patterns. The most common causes of cognitive dissonance in organizational support functions are factors such as the particular management or leadership style, harassment, discrimination, the application of double standards, inappropriate or unethical business practices, and many others.


Hilary Gibbons
Hilary Gibbons

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