I have a confession to make.
There have been times when I’ve been tempted to agree with someone in a position of authority even when I’ve known for sure that they are wrong. The temptation has come partly from their level of aggression, and partly from my not knowing how to deal with people much higher in the company than me.
I’m lucky because I’ve had access to experienced professionals to rely on for advice. I’ve managed to avoid the potential catastrophe of going along with something that I knew was going to flop, but I must admit, it hasn’t been easy.
You’ll come across many situations where you’ll feel compelled to just go with the flow, even though you know it’s going to end up in disaster.
Here are some things you should do and some things you definitely should not do.
Things That Don’t Work
- Sticking your head in the sand. If the issue is big enough to worry you, then chances are the problem will not just disappear. Pretending like the problem doesn’t exist is often a very bad strategy because it will come back to haunt you and your team in the future.
- Following a policy of appeasement. Trying to please everyone by being “agreeable” will also create a lot of problems. There will be many people with different points of view pulling in different directions. How do you please them all? You shouldn’t even try.
- Losing your cool. Getting angry is not only unprofessional, but it will also get people to tune you out. Instead of listening to you and engaging with your ideas, people will start to take you less seriously. You will lose credibility.
What You Should Do
Following a policy of Disagree and Commit helps you to push things in the right direction in an effective way.
Disagree and commit, is when you make a strong case for your position before the decision is made, and then implement with all your might after the decision is made, even when the decision doesn’t go your way.
What Does It Take to Follow This Policy?
- Credibility – If you’re going to disagree with someone on a big issue, you have to know what you’re talking about. Disagreeing with someone without being able to make your case, backed up by facts and reason, will leave you and everyone else worse off. You have to build credibility over time by demonstrating to people that you know what you’re talking about and that you’re willing to take responsibility when you’re wrong.
- A strong backbone – You can’t back down just because the conversation gets tough. If you have a rational conviction in your point of view, then you can’t let yourself get bullied into silence by strong personalities. You must have the fortitude to stand up against pressure and make your case totally clear.
- No ego – Once a decision has been made, you put everything else aside and execute to the best of your ability. Whether the decision went your way or not, you have an obligation to give 100% towards the decision that has been made. There may be things beyond your view that are factored into the decision. People in authority are not always at liberty to share all the facts with everyone. You have to trust that the decision is the right one and implement it.
I hope that you can start to adopt this policy in your day-to-day work.
- You will always end up worse off in the long run if you choose to ignore the problem, try to appease, or lose your cool.
- You should work to build credibility, grow a strong backbone, and check your ego if you want to learn how to disagree with authoritative people the right way.