In business, and in life, whenever you get more than one person involved in an idea… ‘Shit’ can happen. And… that can be a really good thing!
In order for leaders and organizations to be all they can be (be remarkable), you need to push the boundaries and be better as an individual and a business tomorrow, than you were today. And then, you need to be better than that the day after… And so on, and so forth. To do that, leaders need to be:
1. Focused on a vision, purpose and strategy.
2. Build a culture by their design.
3. Live their values.
4. Stretch ideas and people to deliver more value for customers.
To do number four above, there are going to be times when people disagree with one another. This is good when the conflict is healthy and doesn’t become a personal attack. I have not found nirvana yet when it comes to cultures and everyone completely understanding and agreeing with each other. When an organization lacks the ability to have healthy debate about what to do to change, transform and solve problems, there will be fighting, passive aggressive behaviour and chaos. The culture will be toxic. Team members will be frustrated and the best talent will leave.
Healthy conflict though is based around each team member trusting each other explicitly and knowing that differences in opinions are good and it is safe to talk about it. The best organizations in the world have environments where it is OK to challenge any idea. Team members know that when an idea is challenged, that they need to listen as the challenger actually might be right. Wow! What a concept in some places!
As a leader, how do you build a culture where conflicting ideas and opinions are welcomed? Here’s my list…
1. The first step is to hire people that align with the organization’s foundational purpose and values.
2. The leaders need to be great listeners. Remember, to be a great leader, you don’t need to have all the answers and you want to hire people that are smarter than you! If you are threatened by this idea, you need to get some good psychiatric counseling to get over the baggage you are carrying around that is sucking the life out of the team.
3. The leader’s job is to keep the organization true to the vision, purpose, values and strategies.
4. Create some safe language for everyone to use that allows for the introduction of new or challenging ideas. This ‘approach’ allows everyone involved to know that the idea or challenge that is about to be presented is nothing personal just different. Others also know not to take challenges personally and to listen. If the new idea is not good, then safe, healthy debate is allowed to naturally unfold. When a conclusion is reached, there is more standard language used to have everyone ‘sign-off’ on the conclusion reached.