I don’t know about other leaders, managers, or supervisors out there, but I love to be challenged by members of my team. I call that “pushing back,” and I can think of no better way to come to really good decisions, while increasing satisfaction in our work.
I do my best work with the people around the table (who are highly trained and highly skilled) say…”but what if we did it this way,” or , “the concern I have is…,” or “let me offer a different direction,” or, “I don’t think that’s a good idea…” This sends a few important messages:
- They are listening. If they weren’t, they would have nothing to say.
- They care. If they didn’t, they would not bother offering feedback.
- They are smart. Not only do they listen and care, but they have the wherewithal to synthesize what I offered and transform it into something unique.
Maybe it is better, maybe its not; but without the push back, how would we ever truly engage our teams. Almost as much as I value it in my team, I value it from my supervisor. My President in a recent conversation literally said, “go ahead, push back,” when we were discussing a recent staffing and space issue. First she noticed that I had something to offer, and that maybe it didn’t sync with what she was thinking. She invited the push back! I love it. Doing that for me sent a few important messages:
- She is not afraid or threatened by me. My intelligence, or energy, or ideas. A real leader is not scared of their subordinates, rather they embrace the challenge and input.
- She trusts me. She knows I care about my job and about our work. She knows what I have to offer is given from that solid foundation.
- She values me. Everyone loves to be affirmed and agreed with; that’s not leadership it’s human nature. Leadership is inviting feedback when you know it will fly in direct opposition to what you think, say or feel. That is true guts, and true leadership.
I have not always felt this in my work environments. Ask yourself, how often are you invited to push back? How often do you invite the push back? I invite you to put yourself in a place where your input and expertise is embraced, and to embrace the input and expertise of those around you. It’s good medicine, both in your personal and professional life.