The Push Back

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.

feedback-matters

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:

  1. They are listening. If they weren’t, they would have nothing to say.
  2. They care. If they didn’t, they would not bother offering feedback.
  3. 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:

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.

Dr. Anthony

Published by Dr. Michael D. Anthony

I currently serve as the Vice President of Student Affairs and Institutional Effectiveness at Prairie State College in Chicago Heights, IL. I served as an adjunct assistant professor at the University of Louisville and Loyola University in Chicago, IL. In order to expand my life's work beyond my day-to-day job, I started my own consulting work in leadership and diversity in 2008. I completed my Doctor of Philosophy in Educational Leadership and Organizational Development at the University of Louisville, where I also earned my Master of Arts degree in Higher Education Administration. I hold a Bachelor of Science degree in Business Management with a concentration in Marketing from North Carolina State University. A native of Charlotte, NC I am passionate about leadership development, organizational change, and the ability of effective leaders to transform their communities. During my professional career I have made it my personal goal to be a strong and vocal advocate for students, faculty, and staff, and have a life-long vision to empower others to affect positive change in their community. I live in Rochester, MN.

2 thoughts on “The Push Back

  1. Outstanding as usual. The Push Back concept is a great one. If more would embrace it, this would be a more besutiful world. Thank you for this post. I was wondering when the next one would be. I always look forward to reading them.

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