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Do you share your opinions freely?

Posted by Meg Bear on January 22, 2010

I had the opportunity to attend a leadership training this week.  A lot of concepts were discussed, but one that got me thinking was about how important it is for a leader to create healthy debate in their organization.

Not that you want to always be disagreeing or even looking to drive consensus, but that you are making sure that all ideas are on the table and available to you to make the best decisions.

I have never in my life learned anything from any man who agreed with me.

– Dudley Malone

This got me thinking about how bringing forward ideas is not just about the leader, it is about all the participants being willing to share their ideas and opinions freely.  I think we can all think of ways this can be stifled by a leader, but even the most open and engaging leader cannot force participation.  An idea is something a participant offers.

Being a member of a great team is something we all desire, but there is a big responsibility on each of us to make that happen.  For teams to be high functioning trust has to exist, and in the end it comes down to each of us to give our trust and our thoughts freely to the team, often before that trust is earned.

My question today is:

Do you share your ideas and opinions on the important issues or do you sit back and wait for the opportunity to say “I knew they would get it wrong”?  How does that impact the outcome for your team?

5 Responses to “Do you share your opinions freely?”

  1. Well, it still comes down to the leader because good leaders create an environment where sharing is encouraged. And, I mean real honest feedback, not just sitting around in meetings saying what you think people want to hear (which is sometimes mistaken for collaboration).

  2. Vivian Wong said

    I agree 100% that each team member have the responsibility to make a team great. Working Girl is also right on – the leader needs to cultivate a safe environment where everyone’s input is always valued and encouraged, “especially” when their opinions are different to the leaders.

    In my experience, culture and morale are both important factors to consider if your team members don’t share their opinions freely:

    a) in some cultures (such as Asia), it’s NOT OK to disagree with your boss – especially in a public setting (for example, team meetings). If you want their honest thoughts, you may want to consider discussions in smaller groups and invite them to share their ideas. Regular encouragement/patience is also needed to help them build confidence in speaking up freely

    b) when the team morale is low, people in general couldn’t care less about what is going on, even if they have brilliant ideas on how to improve things around here. (In this case, you have a bigger problem to tackle.)

    I am happy to say that my directs and colleagues aren’t shy in sharing their opinions freely – and we often arrive at better decisions as a team. I feel very blessed – we have a great team!

    • Meg Bear said

      Thanks for bringing in the cultural aspect Vivian, as we get more global this is going to become even more important to not lose sight about.

  3. […] but I have yet to hear enough people talking about tracking and rewarding people who share what they know (and what they […]

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