Come on… Freely Debate Me!
There was an obituary in the Wall Street Journal recently. It was for Richard A. Smith, who was the Chief Executive of General Cinema Corp.
One executive said about him, “Mr. Smith had the self-confidence to encourage his aides to debate him freely.”
It turns out that he regularly asked his executives to take the other side of any issue or idea he had so that they could consider all options.
The more I thought about that the more I liked the concept. Imagine having ideas and bringing them to a team that is not afraid to challenge them. It seems to me that this would make for some wonderful ideas.
There are executives who think that their job is to lead the group by coming up with the best ideas (they would say that they are theirs) to implement within the organization. But think about how much better ideas are when more than one person contributes. Not only do you get different perspectives as you approach the idea from different angles.
Also, you can avoid some potholes by listening to what your people have to say. They will have more buy-in to the ideas, too, since they won’t be just what you brought in.
QUESTION TO ASK YOUR TEAM MEMBERS
- At your next meeting, bring in an idea that you think should be considered.
- After you present it, invite everyone in attendance to poke some holes in it.
- If they say they agree with it, make them try harder to poke holes in it so they get the practice of not being afraid to look at things differently than what is presented to them.