Monday, September 19, 2016

“You’re wrong!”...and other dumb things that leaders say

"My way or the highway” encourages honest feedback to take the off-ramp

Check it out: We kill our persuasiveness by the way we talk. Seriously, it’s the way you say it that allows you to be heard. I learned this lesson the hard way. Many years ago I served on the executive team of a faith-based multinational company. We faced a crisis in that organization—I didn’t handle it as well as I could have.

A lawyer from our organization was giving us needed information. I knew something he said was not 100% accurate. The guy wasn’t lying; he simply did not have the most up-to-date information. So, in front of the others, I blurted out, “You’re wrong.” I followed up with better information, just to show the others how smart I was. But all I did is prove how dumb I was.

What I said was accurate, but unnecessary. I lost a friend for the short term. I also hurt the entire team since those kinds of remarks discourage others from being forthright. It was a bonehead mistake.

You might be thinking, “Rob, I work in a high pressure situation with highly paid executives; I don’t have time to be nice.” If you believe that being rude will save time then you’re an idiot—and I say that respectfully! Here’s why.

Sharing the hard truth (with respect) invites others to do the same. You get very honest disagreements, and you get to the best information much faster. In the process, you’re building a better team. Your people get to keep it real in a safe environment.

Patrick Lencioni says that leaders can support an idea they don’t agree with as long as they have been honest and been heard. They don’t have to agree, but they must be heard. When people share the hard truth face to face it eliminates the need for parking lot conversations. When strong opinions are voiced, that’s good stuff! That gives me permission to bring my best, my most passionate self to the table. I get to be me (and you get to be you). We get to be fully human as we do battle in the arena of ideas. We get to learn from sharp people who have different perspectives. It’s leadership development at its finest. Or, instead we can yell, “You’re wrong” and stifle the conversation.

Disagree strongly, but do it with respect. Try one of these: • “I don’t think I agree with you. Help me understand why you believe that.” • “My experience leads me to a different conclusion; let’s talk about this.” • “I don’t think that is accurate; may I challenge you on that point?” • “Let’s discuss this—I’m going to need more convincing.” • “I’d like to share a different perspective; please hear me out.”

BOTTOM LINE: You can disagree without being disagreeable. Honor the person, but challenge the perspective. When you are respectful in the heat of the battle, you’ll win friends for life.

What can you share that will help the rest of us to grow?

Get awesome articles like this once a week!