20 Things to do When the Boss is Wrong

You have an obligation to yourself, your boss, and your organization to speak up when you disagree. One of the best ways to earn respect is advocating for your ideas with integrity, courtesy, and intelligence.

seals fighting

Strong organizations have courageous leaders.

Weakness gives in too soon.

Arrogance hangs on too long.

Foolishness speaks before thinking.

When the boss thinks you’re wrong but you think you’re right:

  1. Make the boss feel understood. Do you fully understand her position? Ask questions.
  2. Determine if it’s worth the fight.
  3. Don’t give in if you’re convinced. Organizations need leaders with strong beliefs.
  4. Advocate with courage and courtesy.
  5. Engage them in private.
  6. Explain your intentions and desired results. Describe the win.
  7. Explore how you can give the boss what they need while hanging on to what you need.
  8. Get the facts.
  9. Test assumptions.
  10. Search for options.
  11. Embrace the big picture.
  12. Include others in the conversation but don’t make anyone look foolish.
  13. Don’t use the past as an argument.
  14. Employ forward focused language.
  15. Check your alignment with organizational mission, vision, and values.
  16. Evaluate your connection with goals and strategy.
  17. Acknowledge you could be wrong.
  18. Focus on issues not personalities.
  19. Stay loyal and keep trying. If you can’t be loyal you must go.
  20. When overruled, grab an oar and row for all your worth. Only babies take their toys and pout when they don’t get what they want. Your response when you don’t get what you want illustrates your character.

What does effective disagreement look like?

What are all the seals thinking in the picture above?