No, I’m not talking about that cylindrical piece of artificial intelligence that has taken homes and offices by storm… (You very well might, in fact, benefit from one of those.)
I’m talking about that sound you hear in conference rooms everywhere. That sound of unquestioned agreement. That parrot-like echo of a leader’s ideas or feelings.
Truth be told, sometimes I wish everyone saw it like I did. It might make things easier, but it wouldn’t necessarily make them better. We all say we want to be open-minded and are interested in hearing multiple opinions… but if today’s social media channels are any indication, this can hardly be the truth.
How about you? Have you found yourself wanting to be surrounded with people who echo your opinion? If you’re a growth-oriented business that’s looking to move further faster, we suggest that you fight every impulse that screams to do it that way.
Case in point. President Trump.
For whatever you think about him, he has found a way to build a large brand… has influenced some pretty savvy/smart kids… and has found a way to be heard. Now the 2017 transfer of power in the US, while peaceful, was anything but clean. As of this writing, the President has just six of his 14 Cabinet members in place.
While news outlet after news outlet confirm that this is a much slower pace than other predecessors, the delay is due in large part to the disagreements many have with the President’s rhetoric. While many leading newspapers are writing headlines meant to discredit the President, I submit that we should find it comforting that he has selected people that vigorously disagree with him. Waterboarding… immigration… Russia… we each have our opinions, and the leader of the free world is putting up people that he considers to be experts in their areas and inviting them to disagree with him. Here are just a few examples:
- His Supreme Court nominee goes on record claiming President’s comments toward judges are “disheartening and demoralizing”
- Although an advocate for waterboarding and other aggressive interrogation techniques, the President indicates he’ll allow himself to be led by his generals
- Multiple nominated leaders communicate very different perspectives on Russia
Press Secretary Sean Spicer explained how Cabinet selections didn’t need to be 100% pure and were chosen for their expertise so they could shape the President’s views. “He’s not asking for clones,” Spicer said. Like him or not, one thing seems apparent, Mr. Trump provides a window into his (unfiltered) soul via his infamous Twitter feed. And after seeing this one, it might just be a glimpse into why he’s been successful:
It’s certainly an interesting thing to see this play out on such a grand and prominent stage. It can be a true case study in leadership, if you look to see it that way.
But similar scenarios have an opportunity to play out in your office’s halls as well. They certainly do at Rogue. In fact, the two managing partners here don’t always see eye to eye on what’s best for the client or the business. Sometimes, we have to walk away, rethink our positions and come at things from a different perspective. It can be frustrating… and it’s certainly more work to reconsider and not just fill the team with people that see things as we do. But it’s paid off in many ways:
- Avoiding the unnecessary expenditure of money
- Improving/protecting brand reputation
- Development of innovative approaches and better proof cases
- Invested team members that know they have permission to see things differently
- Company growth
Whether you’re leading from the White House or a downtown high-rise, there are three things that can help you avoid living in an echo chamber and accelerate growth:
- Recognize that disagreement does not equal lack of support. The fact that someone is willing to stand up and say “I see something different and I’d like to direct your attention to that” is an amazing gift from someone that may, in fact, be looking out for you. It’s been said that there is safety in a mixture of counsel.
- Surround yourself with people that know they are there to provide expert opinion and as such are expected to voice disagreement.
- Realize that a turned skeptic can become the greatest influencer. It takes more work to convince and persuade… but once that work is accomplished, you’ve found a voice that will speak to the other skeptics and promote the healthy culture you are creating.
Leave a comment to let us know how have you seen this play out in your professional career. And if you can benefit from a group of strategists that will bring a unique perspective to the business outcomes you’d like to achieve, it’s time to Go Rogue!