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Daily Leadership Thought #124 – Disagreement Can Be Good, But Don’t Make It Personal

April 20, 2011

Free A Man and a Woman Having Discussion at Work Stock Photo

High performing organizations don’t shy away from disagreement. In fact, they encourage constructive conflict between team members. The best solutions are rarely the ones where everyone comes to the same conclusion right away. Different points of view, passion and strong opinions are the lifeblood of any business. Good things almost always emerge out of creative tension and striving to find a better answer.

What separates strong organizations from their comparatively weaker peers is how they disagree. Instead of allowing conflict to become a catalyst for competing personal agendas, they keep it at a professional level. The discussion stays focused on the issue at hand not the parties to the conversation. Professionalism is expected and there are groundrules for how these conversations take place and how they are eventually resolved. Disagreements aren’t avoided but encouraged and as a result, just like a muscle that gets regular exercise, people get stronger and better at engaging in the dialogue.

As with everything, it all starts with the leader and his/her behavior. He/she needs to lead by example and create a safe environment for discussion. Self-confident leaders don’t get threatened by different perspectives or the need to always be right. They understand that their job is to harness the collective knowledge and talents of their people and set them loose on producing the best solutions to important problems and/or opportunities.