You Lose if They Can’t Disagree

Three years after the fact, a true friend of mine told me why he hadn’t expressed his concerns. “I didn’t believe you would listen. You’d already made up your mind.” Sadly, he was right.

I’d become convinced of a problem and found the solution.

Image source

Passionately sharing solutions, too soon, overwhelms others.

Courageously point out challenges and problems, on your own.

Find solutions with your team.

Weak leaders control others; strong leaders release them.

Creative thinking begins with disagreement. Eric Hoffer said, “The beginning of thought is in disagreement – not only with others but also with ourselves.”

Invite your team to disagree.


  1. Why isn’t this effective?
  2. How does this initiative diverge from our mission?
  3. Does this align with our values?

Vitality is born in controversy, contradiction and discomfort.

Mediocre teams always agree.

Invite outsiders in to tell you what won’t work.

Invite experts in to explain how it’s been done in other places. Tom Peters warns, “Best practices are to be learned from – not mimicked.”

Disagree early – grab an oar later. Create environments where disagreeing early in the process is healthy. Expect people to grab an oar once decisions are made. It doesn’t matter whose option or which combination of options is chosen. Once the final decision is made, the entire team is all-in.

Consensus won’t cut it. The goal of the process is listening and learning, not creating consensus.

You must courageously point the way.

Major Warning!!

Fresh ideas and new initiatives die under the pressure of disagreement. Courageously explore options. Keep saying we need a solution – we can do better.

Negatives don’t create a positive future. They’re only part of the process.

How can leaders create environments where disagreeing is easy and progress continues?