Do You Encourage Disagreement?

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When discussing leadership, we often hear words like teamwork and collaboration. People tend to shy away from words like conflict and disagreement. But are these bad?

Strong leaders encourage disagreement, because it ensures that everyone on the team is using their full potential to ensure decisions are bullet-proofed.

We are all trained from an early age to defer to authority. however, people who are closer to the issue or opportunity often have a different, more informed, perspective than more senior people.

My Perspective: If you are always getting agreement to your thoughts and ideas, then your people aren’t contributing their own valued ideas. As a leader you need to ensure that your team feels safe disagreeing and challenging your thinking. If your team automatically defers to the boss, then you and the team will miss out on critical input and thinking.

Make it easy for people to speak up with a dissenting opinion in a safe environment. Actively ask for their input — and then ask again to demonstrate you are serious about hearing their thoughts. Disagreeing with the boss requires courage, so recognize people when they voice a dissenting opinion and challenge your thinking with good ideas of their own.

When discussing projects, share your comments as initial thoughts as opposed to formed ideas, then ask for input in developing the ideas further. This will encourage people to build on the thinking versus just agree.

Make sure that you don’t react negatively if someone disagrees, even if you think it is a bad idea. This will just shut people down in the future. It’s much better to allow the group to determine that the idea doesn’t make sense based on evaluation — and better ideas that come forward.

Lastly, never confuse dissent or disagreement with disrespect. Disrespect doesn’t belong in any discussion.

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