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Stop Arguing With People Who Already Agree With You
Leaders who speak more than they listen can easily fall into the trap of arguing with those who already agree with them.
This is waste of time for everyone involved and somewhat embarrassing for the tone-deaf leader. The best leaders make it a personal rule to always explore where others stand on an issue to avoid singing to the choir.
What makes this hard for many leaders is their perception that leadership is more of a directive act than a facilitative action. When leaders understand their best and highest use is to influence others as opposed to directing them, they are more likely to ask a question than to give an answer.
From this vantage, it seems obvious that we should question others about their thoughts and beliefs before we take time to explore an issue further.
Getting others to declare their views immediately exposes the gap between how they see matters and how the leader does. When a gap exists, then advocacy is both warranted and necessary. Otherwise, leaders would be better off validating what everyone agrees to and then turning to issues with less consensus.
Leaders who ask others what they think before offering their own opinion are often surprised by what they learn through the process. Agreement and disagreement come into sharper focus when leaders take the time to explore what others believe and also why they hold those views.
Knowing where others stand before we advocate for an idea is a smart way to go. It prevents leaders from appearing heavy-handed or coercive when they have no reason to be.
Horse trainers use a different expression to capture this idea. In the parlance of a working horseperson, one should “never spur a willing horse.” They know that forcefully prodding a horse forward when they were already headed there is a surefire way to create resistance and a sour disposition.
Leaders who wear spurs confront the same challenge.