The 10-C Approach to Pushback when the Boss is Involved and Stakes are High
Pushback makes you relevant and useful in high-stakes situations.
- Emotional heat. Drama is distraction, even offense, to top leaders.
- Grudges. You look narrow and small when you can’t let go when pushback fails. You’re going to lose some arguments.
- Personal attacks.
- Preference over fact. It’s about research, data, and information, not personal preferences.
Pushback matters most when it’s hard to give.
The 10-C approach for pushback:
#1. Conviction. Believe in something. Never push-back as a default response.
Always push for better when pushing back.
#2. Courage. Conviction without courage turns into complaining and backstabbing.
Courage to push back includes:
- Careful preparation. Bravado is the result of wishful thinking.
- Tested assumptions.
- Clear points of defense.
- Willingness to lose.
Courage moves organizations forward. Fear defeats talent.
#3. Candor. Dancing around the pole of veracity irritates people in authority.
Leaders don’t like waiting for punchlines.
#4. Compassion. Seek the highest good with useful kindness.
- Be sensitive to appearances. How does pushback make others look?
- Choose private over public.
- Give respect to earn respect.
#5. Competence. Push back in your areas of expertise.
- Consistently embrace humility.
- Live by principles, not conveniences.
- Practice emotional steadiness.
#7. Connection. Strive for deeper connection because of – not in spite of – pushing back. Fallout from pushing back poorly hinders careers and hampers relationships.
Relationship is the foundation for successful pushback.
#8. Collaboration. How can you include others, even while pushing back?
#9. Curiosity. Stay open.
- Who might have insights?
- Who is impacted by your perspective?
- Who might help you push back successfully?
#10. Clarity of purpose. Why are you pushing back in the first place? Does it matter?
You’re bound for success if you skillfully push back in high-stakes situations and top leaders are involved.
What ideas might you add to this list?
What suggestions or warnings do you have for pushing back?