Part of being a leader is managing and guiding your team, setting tasks and establishing routines. However, there are a lot of different ways to approach a goal, and not everyone will be on board with a plan or idea. This is a good thing: More perspectives mean better decisions and stronger team engagement with the final product.
This means that while it can be unnerving at first, leaders need to get used to hearing, understanding and then reconciling different points of view. To help, we asked members of Young Entrepreneur Council to share 12 steps people can take to get comfortable with dissenting voices as a leader.
1. Be Objective
Disagreements are often good because they evolve into greater solutions for the overall company. Successful leaders are able to disconnect from their emotions, take a step back from their position, and evaluate what idea is best for the company. This idea may or may not be theirs. By thinking objectively, leaders can decide which idea accomplishes the company’s goal and furthers its mission.
2. Embrace Good Ideas and Explain Bad Ideas
If you’re not used to hearing dissenting voices, it can cause some trouble in the workplace. Take your time and listen to what your team has to say. Embrace the good ideas, and be prepared to talk through the ideas that are probably wrong. Using this technique, your team will feel comfortable giving you feedback, which helps you adjust to hearing dissenting voices.
3. Ditch Your Ego
It can be uncomfortable to hear dissenting opinions but one easy way to make it less difficult is to ditch your ego and listen. It can also be useful to remind yourself that, in most cases, people aren’t providing the dissenting voices to your ideas and plans to be hurtful. There’s likely wisdom in their feedback that you’ll be more open to if you ditch your ego and listen.
4. Take Time to Listen
The hardest part about getting comfortable with hearing dissenting ideas is taking the time to consider what the person is saying. I suggest having a weekly meeting and towards the end, let people speak up with their dissenting ideas. You can address concerns head-on and in the process, get better at handling ideas that challenge you to rethink what you know.
5. Create a Space and Time for No Judgments
Allowing people to express their ideas without feedback is a commonly used tactic in brainstorming. Removing criticism and feedback during an idea-generation session keeps the flow of ideas going. You can adopt this attitude by creating a space and time where you focus on receiving ideas rather than evaluating them. Let time pass and you’ll be more objective in appraising new ideas.
6. Remember It’s Not Personal
It’s important not to look at opposing ideas as an attack on your own work. Remember that you’re getting ideas that stem from the desire to make positive change. When you learn to not think of these dissenting thoughts as criticism for the way you’ve done things, you’ll have a more open mind. This means getting used to being more vulnerable and letting other ideas in.
7. Use Disagreements as a Learning Opportunity
The fact that there are differing viewpoints shows that there might be more than one path forward. Understand this and treat it as a learning opportunity. Listen to the concerns, take the time to process what you hear, and apply it to your own idea. You may discover a problem with your plan, or you may convince them. Remember that you’re on the same team, just approaching things differently.
8. Appreciate Their Perspectives
There are no right answers. I think when you acknowledge the ambiguity of leadership, you can appreciate that what feels like dissenting opinions are actually valid perspectives that are all serving to help you make better choices. My view is that the goal isn’t about consensus but informed decision-making, and these different opinions are there to help me make thoughtful choices.
9. See It Through Their Eyes
Remind yourself that everyone sees things through a slightly different lens. The more you can practice viewing situations through alternative lenses, the broader of an understanding you can capture. Be open to, and better yet, encourage employees to share their perspectives. This will put you at a great advantage to make sound decisions that benefit every aspect of the business.
10. Don’t Make Assumptions
The more assumptions someone makes, the harder it is to undo errors. Take a step back and allow others to share their reasoning and perspective. You very likely will learn something that you hadn’t thought of or realized before. If you can walk into a meeting without preconceived assumptions, you have a blank slate to build upon to better understand the situation at hand.
11. ‘Reason Up’
Reason from fundamental truths upwards rather than from analogies. We normally compare things to something else that was or is being done. That’s because it is easier. Instead, take a scientific approach and boil things down to what you are sure is true and then reason up from there. This takes a lot more mental energy, so it’s a habit you have to enforce on yourself.
12. Communicate With Emotional Intelligence
Sometimes, simply stating facts of how things may change is not enough to convince your team to get on board. In these cases, harnessing your emotional intelligence is crucial to improving communication between you and your team members. If you can sense they’re feeling unsure, use that to explain why these changes are beneficial to ease their doubts.
These answers are provided by Young Entrepreneur Council (YEC), an invite-only organization comprised of the world’s most successful young entrepreneurs. YEC members represent nearly every industry, generate billions of dollars in revenue each year and have created tens of thousands of jobs. Learn more at yec.co.