Surround Yourself with Dissenting Voices

For leaders within a company, it can be tempting to surround yourself with people who think like you. You probably have a clear vision of where the company should go, what it should focus on, where it should put its resources to succeed well into the future. And people who agree with you will build you up and work tirelessly to see your vision come true.

If that sounds great, it’s probably why this practice is so pervasive in companies today. And it’s also why advice to do the exact opposite is so important.

The most successful strategic leaders are in fact those who surround themselves with people who see the world and think differently than they do. While that may seem backwards, consider how that works:

  1. You are not going to be right all the time. The more people around you who are empowered to speak up when they disagree with you, the better the odds that your worst ideas won’t make it past the starting gate.
     
  2. You need advocates for different groups. Even your best intentions may be in direct conflict with certain groups you represent, say your sales team, the women in your organization, or existing customers. A well-rounded leadership team includes representatives to stand in for all stakeholders.
     
  3. Good ideas can always be made better. The people around you who may not see the world or approach problems in the same way you do will often have their own ideas about how things should be done. That doesn’t mean these ideas will always run counter to yours. In fact, many times they will enhance your ideas and help create an even more effective strategy.

Strong-willed leaders who don’t deal well with dissent are doomed to fail more often than not. And though dissenting voices may slow a company down at times, they will almost always lead to better decisions and more well thought-out strategies