Courageous leaders do more than listen to constructive dissent, they encourage it. Hot conflict not comfortable collaboration produces brilliance.
Encouraging constructive dissent:
- Don’t answer first. Tell people you expect hard truths and practical answer. Don’t settle for yes.
- Share all the information. You discourage feedback when you toss out information you withheld that invalidates what someone just said.
- Embrace and honor great feedback. Say, “I hadn’t expected that answer; what are you basing it on.” Push back without pushing away.
- Change your mind. A community leader once told me they never led a meeting they didn’t already knowing the outcome. I started avoiding their meetings. Does it surprise you they didn’t enjoy rich feedback? Once people realize you don’t really care what they think, they stop telling you what they really think.
- Ask tough questions. One of the saddest things I’ve seen leaders do is listen to bull crap. Exposing smoke-blowers motivates people to prepare for meetings and discussions.
- Terminate drifters and butt kissers. They just take up space and drain vitality from real workers. Spend time with honest hard thinkers.
- Publicly honor constructive dissenters. When constructive dissent ends up rejected, honor the person. Disagree without being disagreeable.
- Focus on solutions not people. Balance #6 with #7.
- Assign groups to defend positions regardless of their personal point of view. Tell the people to your right they are defending option “A” and the ones on your left are defending option “B”.
- Make decisions. Vigorous discussions without decisions demoralize. Great people want to participate and they want responsible decisions that establish clear direction.
Bonus: Get the creative dissent ball rolling by planting a dissenter who publically dissents.
How do you encourage constructive dissent?
What dangers are associated with encouraging constructive dissent?
Other practical posts on decision making:
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