In the olden times, many ministers in a king’s court were known as yes -men. They always answered yes to whatever question was raised by the king. The reason was not because they did not have an independent view but because they were worried about the consequences of dissent. Often disagreement with the leader could mean that you lose your position or even your head.

Have things changed ? In many modern organizations, dissent and disagreement is not very common. It’s common that when the boss walks in the meeting goes quiet. It’s common that there is a lot of heads that nod to the boss when they speak. This is often labelled psychological safety – the ability of people to feel safe and comfortable to voice their views, especially when the views are different.

Why is this important ? It’s the only way to prevent the boss when they are making a big mistake or get critical inputs needed to make an important decision. Many industrial disasters like the challenger shuttle and the Fukushima nuclear disaster had cases where someone knew the right answer but did not speak up or was not heard in the hierarchy due to this lack of psychological safety.

So how can we make our teams fearless so that they can speak and share freely

  1. Ask, don’t answer  – As a leader ask everyone for their views. Ask them “ what do you think about this topic, Ms……. ?” and patiently wait for their answer. DO it multiple times in meetings till it becomes the normal habit.
  1. Seek Dissent –  Go around asking probing questions to others in the group – “what can go wrong ? What risks are we missing ? is this really a good idea ? shall we challenge this a bit more ?”. Do so especially if the idea comes from you.
  1. Suggest don’t solve – Give the teams ideas and suggestions but don’t solve the issues for them. Use phrases like “my suggestion is, an input for your consideration” This will always make them feel they can make the final decision
  1. W.A.I.T. = Why Am I Talking ? Ask yourself – do you really need to add value or do you need to bring out the best in others. Talk less, listen more
  1. Celebrate Disagreement – Whenever anyone says something challenging or different, then welcome it and celebrate it. Show everyone how different ideas made you value them and how you welcome them

Create the space for everyone to speak and see how the best ideas shine through and you end up creating a fearless team

Get a weekly doze of inspiration right in your inbox!


    Get your weekly doze of inspiration right in your inbox!

      © AseemPuri 2020. All Rights Reserved