An environment that promotes productive conflict moves us faster towards a better solution/outcome. When we surround ourselves with “yes” people or refuse to listen to others, we slow (and even stop) progress. Harvard Business Review recently published an article that talks about this.
I’ve been in a number of different environments and I can tell you that no one really “wins” when the boss has all the answers or everyone on the team thinks the same way. You may feel like you’re moving the organization forward if you’re always right or winning every argument about the next step. In reality, your “brilliant” solution is likely missing things, you’ve left a negative emotional wake, and disengaged a lot of people in the process.
For everyone to win, we have to check our egos and titles at the door, set aside our desire (need?) to always be right, and humbly admit that we don’t know everything and that others’ ideas are better than ours. Leaders still need to make a decision on the way forward (otherwise we risk falling into analysis paralysis) but that decision will be better because they got there using productive conflict.
Our responsibility as leaders is to demonstrate how it works and to tell our stories of struggle and success. We know that we’re better together as a team than as a group of individuals, this is simply more proof to bolster that fact.