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Leaders Who Pretend to Agree
The team reaches a critical decision. Everyone agrees the decision is the best course of action. Leaving the meeting where the choice is finalized, it appears everyone is on board.
And then, the unexpected happens.
One or more of the leaders goes back to their respective teams and informs them of the faulty decision. They make it clear they are not in favor of the decree and then begin to explore how to work around it.
Or worse, they tell their team just to ignore it.
When individual or team agendas take precedence over organization commitments, performance suffers. Leaders who pay lip service to decisions or strategic directions and then do their own thing sabotage the ability of the organization to align and then to execute.
Resisting decisions after they have been made is commonplace in many organizations. Standing squarely for any decision, even those they argued against or disagree with, is a sign of true leadership. When a leader says “Yes,” they have to mean Yes. Leaders are expected to carry the flag of decision all the way to the top of the pole. Anything less is an act of subversion.
Yet, many leaders don’t view their after-the-decision resistance as anything more than creatively interpreting strategic intent. They convince themselves that team decisions are negotiable and only imply a suggested course of action. In so doing, they fail perhaps the most important test of what it means to be a team leader. Worse yet, they create the “we” versus “they” mentality down below that erodes a healthy organizational culture.
Keeping tabs on how decisions are explained and executed down below gives more senior leaders an understanding of who is committed to organizational success and who has gone rogue.
Any time a leader learns that a team member has trashed or subverted the group decision, they must confront this reality immediately. Allowing leaders to do it their way is tantamount to agreeing to fragment the efforts of the larger team.
Such treason can’t stand.
Leaders who only pretend to agree to team decisions are not to be trusted to lead. Their desire to impose their personal views on a finalized decision suggests they think they know better than the wisdom of the team. Such arrogance and action shatter the alignment so necessary for organizational success.