Seeking alternative viewpoints

alternative-views1I’ve written before about the difficulty in figuring out who’s not at the table when it comes to effective decision making. This continues to be a challenge in my professional life. It’s so hard to hear the voices that aren’t there.

During my career I’ve worked with a couple of leaders who systematically reduced the number of people in their management circles. On one hand, this certainly does lead to quicker and more efficient decision-making. But on the other hand, I wonder if the decisions are actually better.

I understand the need to streamline bureaucracy, and there are certainly many ways to seek alternative viewpoints. The most effective leaders are able to make timely and efficient decisions while still reaching out to stakeholders.  Taking time to hear from a broad range of people can generate new considerations or raise issues that a smaller team might not think of.

I worked with a leader at the U of M who was great at this. She demonstrated a genuine open-door policy and listened respectfully even when she disagreed with the speaker. She cultivated a wide network that generated diverse viewpoints. I’ve been amazed at how many different projects I’ve been involved with where someone would say, let’s ask Kris about this. Her openness made it easier for her to find those diverse voices and be connected to different viewpoints.

What have you seen effective leaders do to seek alternative viewpoints?

Dee Anne Bonebright

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