EXECUTION IS EVERYTHING
Todd Dewett | October 15, 2020
It’s fun to research, assemble, and try out your own personal bag of tricks to be applied to relationship and career issues. I love finding new rules, maxims, and tools to consider. However, you do run a risk when you find new practices to try. If you try something once and it works, there is a tendency to overestimate how effective it is in general. It may or may not apply to all situations equally. Further, even if it did, you have to remember that whether or not it’s useful at any given time depends almost entirely on execution, not the quality of the idea itself.
I receive a lot of notes from professionals around the planet asking for my perspective on a variety of issues from leadership to teams to relationships to success. Here is one I received recently (paraphrased):
“I have a question about a leadership technique called ‘disagree and commit.’ Some say it’s a genius approach, but others feel in practice it often sends a horrible message like, “Say whatever you want. I’m not going to listen. Then you can shut up and do what I say.” It’s an approach that forces compliance while only acting like employee input matters.”
Yes, I’ve heard of this tactic. The idea is basically solid: sometimes you need to listen yet act on your personal conviction without fully building consensus. In turn, the team needs to listen, disagree if desired, but then agree to accept the decision nonetheless. It can be valid and used in a very short period of time. It pays respect to the importance of listening, but in a very brief manner. However, whether or not it works (defined as being accepted and considered useful and fair by the team) is another matter.
It depends. Does the team understand the time constraints? Do they feel you’re really listening? Is this tactic used too often? Is there meaningful follow-up when time allows in order to explain yourself more fully? If, for example, this approach is used very often, you don’t seem sincere, and there is no meaningful follow-up to close the loop – that’s a huge problem. Thus, an approach that can be useful actually causes damage.
The solution: never assume you’re doing something correctly for too long. Every manager should have a quarterly debrief with the team. Use the whole team, key members, a close confidant, a coach, a mentor, your boss, or mix it up over time. The point is that you need honest feedback. You require someone to tell you when you get it right and when you are unintentionally causing issues. Be brave – ask for their insights.
There’s no shortage of great tips and tactics to try. Just be sure you’re using them in a value-added manner – and don’t assume you know the answer! In the end, it’s not about the method per se, it’s about how it’s used. The next time someone asks you about the utility of a particular practice, tell them the truth: it depends.