Imagine yourself driving down the highway at 65 miles per hour. Now imagine doing so while looking only straight ahead through the windshield. No rear-view mirror, no use of your side mirrors, your side windows blacked out. Kind of scary and very dangerous, with a high likelihood that you won’t see something that could fatally disrupt your little drive. “But I wouldn’t do that,” you say. I know. So why do people do it every day?I’m sure you’ve seen companies where the driver – umm – CEO, President, any senior person really – surrounds themselves with “yes” men and women. These are people who agree with anything the leader espouses, no matter what. One could make a cogent argument that any organization where there aren’t divergent points of view is doomed to failure for precisely the reasons you wouldn’t drive down the highway without mirrors or a broad view of the road. Organizations need alternative points of view. More importantly, strong leaders want lots of information while weak ones want people to say “yes”. If a leader feels like they’re not getting a broad enough perspective, they should be demanding their troops get more information and present it, unfiltered. As an alternative, they can hire folks like me. Consultants have no agenda other that what we’re given – if someone asks for a broad range of unfiltered information, that’s what we provide. (By unfiltered, I mean all relevant data, even data that contradicts the client’s thinking, not disorganized or random).
Real leaders can’t just look out the windshield. I think we’re all aware of organizations that fire people who disagree with the boss’s thinking. That firing can be a fatal move, eventually sending the car over the cliff. Companies should not employ lemmings. Real leaders get as much information as possible from widely varied sources and then decide. I’m not advocating paralysis by analysis but flying blind isn’t a great idea either.
Are your organization’s mirrors in place or is the driver wearing blinders? Let me know.