Followership: How to Present Opposing Views to Your Leader

Part 2 of 3 Parts

“I understand what our leader is trying to do, but he does not know our history.  His proposal will fail,” an employee said to me.  “Are you saying team members cannot disagree with their leaders?”

“No,” I responded.  “Effective leaders encourage competing opinions.  Healthy, passionate parleys often lead to improved decisions.”

The intent is to offer divergent options without dividing members into opposing camps that muscle up for win-lose standoffs.   Consider two rules for respectfully disagreeing with your leader.

Rule 1.  Present your views as an alternative rather than creating a blunt force against the leader’s position.  For example, “I see your point.  Here is another option for addressing the issue . . .,” or “I understand but I’m still having trouble with . . .”

Avoid zero-sum phrases such as, “It won’t work.” “You are going to fail.”  “Others won’t support it.” “You said . . .”

Rule 2. Acknowledge the leader’s right to make the decision.  Introduce your disagreement with, “I’m going to do what you ask me to do but I’d like to suggest. . .” 

All team members have a right to have their say but not a right to have their way.      

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