Who is your Challenger In Chief? The Value of Dissenting Points of View

challenger in chief - photo of executive

As a leader, have you created a culture in which expression of opposing points-of-view is encouraged, or are you in need of a Challenger in Chief?

As a leader, who is your Challenger in Chief?

Do you actively seek out alternative views that may be at odds with your own? After all, we all have blind spots and if you happen to be a strong leader, there is always the risk that those around you will develop a tendency to defer to your point-of-view.

In the absence of healthy dissenting points of view, you run the risk of making less effective decisions.

There’s no denying that it feels good when people agree with you. Somehow there’s a comfort in that. Yet, time and time again we learn lessons about the dark side of Group Thinking and how, depending on the dynamics involved, it can actually lead to lower quality decisions that can put your organization at risk.

That’s why the culture of your leadership team and your organization is so important.

Here’s a post from the HBR Blog by Noreena Hertz in which she discusses the importance of having your views challenged and the positive role that dissent can play in your organization.

“We are drawn to those who echo what it is we already believe. We get a dopamine rush when we are presented with confirming data similar to what we get when we eat chocolate or fall in love. On Facebook we defriend those with different political views to our own. On Twitter we follow people just like us.

Yet a vast body of research now points to the import of contemplating diverse, dissenting views. Not just in terms of making us more rounded individuals but in terms of making us smarter decision-makers.

Dissent, it turns out, has a significant value.

When group members are actively encouraged to openly express divergent opinions they not only share more information, they consider it more systematically and in a more balanced and less biased way. When people engage with those with different opinions and views from their own they become much more capable of properly interrogating critical assumptions and identifying creative alternatives. Studies comparing the problem-solving abilities of groups in which dissenting views are voiced with groups in which they are not find that dissent tends to be a better precondition for reaching the right solution than consensus.

Yet how many leaders actively seek out and encourage views alien and at odds to their own?

Click here to read the full article (opens a new window)

Is it worth formalizing the Challenger in Chief role?

The role of Challenger in Chief can be filled in a lot of different ways. Ideally, your leadership team culture is one that encourages open conversations and sharing of different points-of-view.

Where such a culture is absent, perhaps formalizing the role in some fashion (whether through an internal or external resource) is a reasonable interim step until a more open culture can be created.

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