Often, great ideas come from healthy debate. When team members exchange ideas and opinions, new ideas can emerge.
Working collaboratively always produces better results than working competitively. When people compete within an organization, they don’t support each other toward the shared vision. This creates a culture of self-interest, rather than organizational interest.
Competition is healthy for competitors, not for team members. Imagine if the players on your favorite sports team were paying more attention to competing with one another than with the team they were playing against. The other team would find ample opportunities to exploit them, and your favorite team would lose.
Leaders who have the courage to invite dialogue are far more effective. Of course, disagreements and conflicts are unavoidable in the process. But when you insist on a respectful environment, it’s worth it. When I worked for Disney, we called it “creative tension.” Walt Disney would intentionally put people with opposing opinions on the same project to challenge each other to create something magical. By inviting dialogue, you can produce tremendous results.
After putting in the time to create a high-performing leadership team focused on achieving the vision, Laurie noticed that her team members didn’t really challenge one another. She said she could tell that they didn’t always agree, but they wouldn’t say anything in front of her.
While it was great that the team had good relationships with each other, there’s a real downside to withholding dissenting opinions. Since she was the division president, I encouraged Laurie to invite dialogue and let her team know it was both safe and productive to share their opinions.
She expressed her intention to create a collaborative and respectful environment where team members could challenge each other to come up with the best ideas. She shared her own success stories when healthy debate inspired innovation and increased results.
It took the team awhile to get used to this new way of working, but Laurie consistently reminded them about the benefits and her expectation of trust and respect. Eventually, the team opened up and started challenging one another to collaboratively create even better ideas and improve their results.
EXECUTIVE LEADERSHIP ACTION PLAN
Where can you respectfully challenge others to produce even better results?
How can you invite dialogue on your team?
“In the frank expression of conflicting opinions lies the
greatest promise of wisdom.”
~ Louis Brandeis