Pioneering leaders can be overcommitted to their ideas. They have a robust vision, and they may come across as argumentative, stubborn, and closed to other ideas. Does this sound familiar?
Here are some strategies that might be helpful if you often get the feedback that you are too pushy with your ideas or seem arrogant.
Ask for permission before you share feedback or contrarian views
Ask your counterparts: “Would you like to hear some feedback on the idea you just shared?” Or “Would you be open to hearing a different idea?”
People will say yes, and they will be a lot more receptive to whatever you have to say.
Make it explicit when you bring someone else’s perspective
Sometimes, we are the most opinionated when we represent someone else. Our team. The consumer. The investors. The problem is, we forget to tell our counterparts that this is what we are doing.
By making it explicit that we are now speaking on behalf of the employees, for example, people will be less likely to take what we share as a personal challenge.
Speak to geniuses
Sometimes we appear patronising because we believe that we are more knowledgeable or competent than our counterparts in a specific area.
What is important to remember is that all of us have an extraordinary mode and a mediocre mode. None of us is exceptional or mediocre all the time.
Your job as a leader is to inspire people to turn their extraordinary mode on more often.
Believing in their power and potential is the first step. Treating someone condescendingly can trigger defence walls or attack systems. Talk to the genius that hides inside each one of us, and you are more likely to get your point across.
Use “yes, and”
Nobody likes a consistent naysayer. Acknowledge what is good about other people’s ideas before you add your own. Like in improvisation, you can use the phrase ‘yes, and” rather than “yes, but.”
There are many ways to get to Rome
You might want to choose your battles rather than always insisting that your opinion prevails. Increasing a colleague’s commitment to the project may compensate for giving up your idea.
The more data you have, the easier it is to make a decision. Rather than getting locked in arguing hardening positions, how about testing one of the suggested solutions? What are the fail-safe ways you can try different ideas?
Many executives who have strong opinions may struggle in a corporate environment where they do not have the ultimate say on the way forward. They might thrive more as the leader of their own business and the top decision-maker. Your strong convictions will be useful as you inspire clients, employees or investor to enrol to your vision.
Strong vision is an asset for a leader but it can often make us come across as arrogant. By doing the internal work to see everyone as “equal power but different” and the communication tweaks mentioned above, we increase our probabilities of success.
Which of the above ideas did you find more useful?