Breedlove's Briefing: Why the Best Entrepreneurs Have Employees Who Disagree With Them

June 3 - Stephanie Breedlove

Hi! I’m Stephanie Breedlove, Co-Founder of HomePay, Author and Angel Investor.

I absolutely adore taking an idea and giving it life in the form a business, then leading it to its full potential. Nothing is more fun. (Seriously!) I’d love for every woman who wants to start her own business to say the same thing, so here I am, mentoring millennial entrepreneurs. When I’m not working, I like to recharge and head outdoors to hike, bike, or stand up paddle board!

Is that list of business news and trending articles you’ve tagged still unread? I get it. Allow me to help. Take a couple minutes to read my summary of articles serving the most pertinent, actionable business topics. Or, take 10 minutes to read the full article, and put another brick on the foundation of your growing career.

This Week’s Must-Read:

Why the Best Entrepreneurs Have Employees Who Disagree With Them

Who it’s for:

Every founder at every stage of business, because we are all striving to maximize growth and success.

Why it’s important:

Most of us believe that to be successful, entrepreneurs must be powerful leaders whose employees immediately fall in line with their every command: following automatically with respect, obedience, and trust that their leader is more experienced and knowledgeable than they are. You may highly respect for the late Steve Jobs, but would you have dared to disagree with him? In reality, businesses actually perform better when their founders recruit partners and employees who are willing to disagree.

Founders, here are some important strategies to consider as you build your teams and culture to reaching full business potential:

Critical Thinking and New Perspectives: The most obvious benefit of critical thinking is that conflict naturally encourages progress. Disagreements force the leader to confront the weaknesses of your ideas; otherwise, those weaknesses remain unchecked.

Stubbornness and Compromise: The stereotypical entrepreneur is notoriously stubborn. Steve Jobs is the go-to example here. Stubbornness in a leader - allowed to run rampant - is also a weakness. It may lead businesses to waste time on bad ideas, or experience disappointment when an impossible goal isn’t met. Having employees who disagree with you allows your stubbornness to be challenged when appropriate.

Trust, Honesty and Resentment: It is a guarantee that your employees are going to disagree with you, at least on occasion. The real question is whether they’re going to express that disagreement openly and productively, or keep it to themselves. An open atmosphere makes employees feel comfortable and respected and allows the sharing of ideas to grow into something great.

Cultivating an Atmosphere for Disagreement: The challenge for you as an entrepreneur is to create an environment that allows for constructive disagreements without jeopardizing your credibility as a leader. Here are a few strategies for growing this type of atmosphere:

  1. Hire experts and critical thinkers: Not all dissenting opinions are valuable. Build a team of experts, critical thinkers and professionals capable of meaningful counterarguments.
  2. Give employees conversational space: Allow space for employees to voice their opinions. If you go out of your way to ask for opinions, employees will be far more likely to share them.
  3. Minimize negative consequences: Avoid berating, embarrassing or undermining employees who voice their opinions.

Top Take-Away: Having employees disagree with you is a sign of a strong organization, as long as you’re cultivating disagreements constructively. Learn from the perspective of your most valuable team members - and even if you don’t change your mind, embrace the benefits of critical thinking and trust.

Need a little more proof and a few more strategies? Keep on reading:

Conflict Among Team Members Can Lead to Better Results

The Art of Having a Productive Argument

An Exercise in Compromise: How to Agree to Disagree

The Sound of Things Not Being Said

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