by Richard Martin
Conflict? Well, maybe that’s too strong a word. But I got your attention.
What I’m really alluding to is that readiness depends on considering varied points of view, a range of scenarios, especially ones you don’t like or fear, and a willingness to look at the consequences, negative and positive, of your future decisions and actions.
The best way to generate a full range of considerations, analyses, and options is to surround yourself with advisors and leaders who are not afraid of speaking their minds and whom you know for certain have divergent opinions, interests, and talents. Doris Kearns Goodwin wrote a book about Lincoln’s leadership and his cabinet, called Team of Rivals.
The title says it all. Goodwin makes the case that Lincoln was more interested in generating disagreement and, yes, even a healthy amount of conflict and competition, between his cabinet members. That way he was assured that he could get a variety of heartfelt opinions, and not just sycophantic agreement with his own ideas.
Contrast that with the pictures we regularly see of the North Korean dictator surrounded by his minions. They’re all holding their little notebooks and pencils, ready to jot down the “dear leader’s” every thought and wish. The forced rictuses of these supposed advisors and senior military commanders reminds me more of the dominated chimpanzees in a troupe who are trying to avoid the wrath of a despotic alpha male than the confident stance of generals and leaders of men.
On the other hand, this contrast shows what is needed for a team-of-rivals approach to be successful:
- The boss must be secure and confident in his/her leadership to not feel threatened by opposing points of view, especially from his/her advisors and delegated leaders.
- The advisors and subordinate leaders must have faith that they will be heard and listened to, that they will get their chance to put their point of view across without getting fired or otherwise reprimanded or humiliated.
- This entails loyalty both ways. The boss must be willing to hear divergent points of view, so long as they are debated “in camera.” The advisors and subordinates must accept that once a decision is made, they will carry it out as if it were their own decision, and this regardless of whether they were originally in agreement with it or not.
- If a subordinate or advisor can’t live with a decision by the boss, then he or she must resign.
How about you? Are you surrounded with advisors and subordinates who always agree with you, or do you have a “team of rivals,” people who will give you ground truth and stand by their principles? What’s more, are they willing to say what they want to say, and then execute the plan once the decision is made? Do you have the confidence and self-esteem to accept well-considered criticism and a divergence of opinions and passions? Can you take disagreement and even a certain level of conflict?
If you can count on the loyalty, integrity, and collegiality of your closest advisors and subordinates, then you have a great start on generating the range of understandings and options to propel your state of readiness to higher and more sustainable levels.
Remember Richard’s Business Readiness Process in 2017!
- Ensure vigilance through situational awareness.
- Do preliminary assessment of tasks and time.
- Activate organization or team.
- Conduct reconnaissance.
- Do detailed situational estimate.
- Conduct wargame and decide on optimal course(s) of action.
- Perform risk management and contingency planning.
- Communicate plan and issue direction.
- Build organizational robustness.
- Ensure operational continuity.
- Lead and control execution.
- Assess performance.
Call me for a Business Readiness Briefing in 2017!
Did you know that an infantry battalion only needs about 3 to 4 hours of prep and planning time to be battle ready? What are you waiting for to get the same benefits for your outfit?
Feel free to contact me at any time to discuss your objectives and needs.
And remember… STAND TO!!!
My name is Richard Martin and I’m an expert on applying readiness principles to position companies and leaders to grow and thrive by shaping and exploiting change and opportunity, instead of just passively succumbing to uncertainty and risk.
© 2017 Alcera Consulting Inc. This article may be used for non-commercial use with proper attribution.