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When leaders won't listen!

Have you ever had a boss or watched a political leader who has adopted the attitude that it is my way or the highway? They think they have all the answers but in reality, they may have adopted that mindset because they are uninformed, ignorant, or just insecure. Or maybe they just possess a huge ego. This thinking does not allow them to be skillful, productive leaders in my opinion.

As leaders, we should continually strive to grow our base of information, our sphere of influence, and our base of support. Leaders that get entrenched in their thoughts and ideas are not always the leaders you want to follow. But often, they are the leaders you have!

So, the big question is, “how do I deal with this person” and maybe try to help change their point of view. I think first and foremost, make sure your opinion and input are well reasoned and thought out. Spend some time considering the ramifications of your opinion, run it by trusted friends or co-workers and make sure they weigh in on it candidly. Ask them to be honest in their opinions so when you present your thoughts, you will have the benefit of other points of view and their experiences.

Secondly, please consider how you will approach this person whose opinion or style you want to challenge or change. This can be tricky. Be humble, be prepared for discussion, and be unabashedly unafraid to have the conversation. Be respectful and never be rude. Also, be receptive to the other person's reasonings and rationales as to why they have come to their decision/conclusion. This could become an opportunity for you to even learn something!

And lastly, try to be accepting of the outcome and professional in your demeanor. You do not have to agree, but hopefully, you will come away with a better perspective on why that leader has decided the way that they have. People in charge often have access to more information than others and that information may influence their point of view as well. This can be frustrating, but you must respect the positions of authority.

Carl Strang, a close family friend, and a servant community leader used to have a bumper sticker on his car that read “Question Authority”. Many years ago, I couldn’t quite get my head around that concept. And then I was elected to local political office and wondered if this bumper sticker slogan was actually good or truly bad. I came to realize that questioning authority and their decisions in a respectful way was a good thing. While at times it may be a little uncomfortable or difficult to articulate your position, it is very good for the process of coming to better decisions.

So as Mr. Strang encouraged us to do, Question Authority, because better decisions and outcomes will be the result. And shouldn’t that be our goal as a leader?


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