As leaders, sometimes we don’t want to hear the bad stuff.
We don’t want to hear the reasons why not.
We don’t to hear more of what people are gossiping and complaining about.
We don’t want to hear it, mostly, because we don’t know what to do with dissent. That’s where the shift needs to occur. Consider there is nothing to do with dissent except hear it. You’re the leader. You don’t need to fix every person’s problem. That’s not your job. Your job is to articulate, design and set a course to achieve some vision. And frankly, you’re a bit crazy to expect that people won’t have dissent to your vision.
Why this works…
The value in being open to the dissent of others is that the more you can give people the space to say what they need to say, the more they will move through any upset they have. People have a fundamental need to be heard. Usually they understand when a decision needs to get made other than what they want, but what leaves them stuck is not being heard.
The other benefit of welcoming dissent is that it allows you to clarify your message. Often you’ll find that people haven’t heard what you said, they’ve heard their own interpretation of what you said. That’s why often you resist dissent because you can’t believe they don’t trust your motives or respect your authority. You can’t imagine why someone wouldn’t be as excited as you at the possibility you see. You don’t understand why they don’t see how you really and truly want not only the organization to thrive, but you also want them to thrive.
Here’s the key: dissent is not personal.
It really has nothing to do with you or even your idea.
It’s just people’s way of dealing with a new idea or new way of doing things. The more you can welcome it without resistance, the more you fine-tune what you’ve said so people understand where you are coming from. The more you can help them see that perhaps what you’re saying is not what they’re hearing.
The bottom line is whether you open yourself up to dissent or not, it’s there. People have it and so your task as a leader is to move people forward powerfully into action and one of the best ways to do that is to welcome dissent.