Patterns & Insights
Embracing Those that Challenge
Do you, as a leader of a company, an organization, or a team embrace those passionate sometimes testy “challengers” among your ranks? Do you create an environment that empowers and supports alternative views for meeting opportunities or resolving challenges? If not, there are potentially a wealth of great ideas that may not be making it to you because they are stifled and gagged by a culture that doesn’t foster, support and reward healthy alternative input to meeting company opportunities and challenges.
I am fortunate to have been raised by an amazing mom. She was an awesome school teacher but money was always tight in our family. Mom was a no-nonsense busy head of our household. I learned many valuable lessons from her, but one I’ll describe here that I’ve translated frequently into my professional life as an employee, consultant and a leader. She set the tone in our family early on — challenges were acceptable (with a few caveats). She allowed them as a mechanism to not only improve our family functioning, but to help me develop my own creativity for problem solving, to not get stuck in ‘victim’ mode when things were unpleasant, and to participate and contribute in our household.
Mom always said, “If you are not part of the solution, you are part of the problem. Don’t come whining to me with an issue. If you have a problem with a situation or an expectation I have of you, you may bring your viewpoint forward. It must, however, be respectfully delivered and must always be accompanied by an alternative solution suggestion. Period. No exceptions.” For me, this improved my attitude and buy-in to all things family life because I felt empowered. It helped me exercise and develop a real muscle for some very creative problem solving! And because I was listened to, respectfully in exchange for my respectful delivery – I felt heard and accepted the final decision even if my particular alternative to making my bed, or eating my vegetables was overruled in the end.
This is no different for your “challengers” out there in your employee ranks. Try giving them the opportunity for a voice, and they may get energized by it. Be sure to listen, you might just hear a great solution that you or most of your leadership team would have never come up with. Most importantly, if the culture becomes one that embraces and at least considers alternative viewpoints and diverse inputs to meeting the needs of your business, you just may start racing faster to results!