As an entrepreneur, I am always pushing myself and company to “be better”….so what does that mean in practice? And what does this mean for associations.
Through my consulting company, .orgSource, when I bring on new resources to our team, I tell them that I expect them to tell me what I am doing wrong, provide their opinions and push back on my ideas. If that is not something they are willing to do then they are not a good fit for our team. Other opinions only make us better as a company and make us better for our customers! I admit, I may not always implement their opinions but it makes me stop and think about what I am doing and stop to consider alternatives. Regardless, we are improving what we are doing as a team by considering alternatives and opinions.
When I was working at the American Academy of Dermatology, I was in a situation where my senior staff person had left a few days before I gave birth (two and 1/2 weeks early). So, I continued to work in order to keep things afloat with the for-profit subsidiary. I was exhausted and out of my mind (although I would have never admitted it at the time)! The team did what I told them to do based on my direction….when I came back to the office many months later, I would question what they were doing and they would say “because you told us to. I was adamant that I didn’t tell them to do “this or that”….but I had indeed. So…after a few weeks, I told them ignore anything I had told them during my leave and that they should have proceeded with what they knew was the right direction. At that moment, I realized that as a “Associate Executive Director” the team was going to proceed with whatever direction I had provided with no questions asked even if it was a bad decision. I then spent my time changing the culture within our division so that they would push back, openly provide their opinion and question my direction.
So what is the point, you may be thinking….the point is that others opinions, thoughts and expertise (at ANY level) only makes you better as a leader and as an organization. Challenging opinions in a positive way enables the team to consider alternatives. This leads to a culture of innovation, improvement and growth. Give your team an opportunity to challenge decisions in a positive way. Create a culture of open communications. By doing so, you will reap many benefits.
Continue the conversation by posting in the comments and feel free to disagree!