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AUGUST 2020 I PCB007 MAGAZINE 65 cause they insist they are. They rarely listen to anyone other than themselves anyway. Lead- ers listen and act accordingly. We are taught that conflict is bad and should be avoided, and most certainly conflict can be destructive and create dysfunction in an organization. However, an environment that encourages new ideas, viewpoints and con- structive criticism can turn conflict into a very powerful decision-making tool. This is not to say that a leader will always, or even occasion- ally, heed the advice of trusted advisors, but a great leader will welcome this discussion as a means to making the best possible decision for the organization. What frequently happens is that in the course of a healthy discussion with constructive dissent, differing perspec- tives will organically generate thoughts and ideas that would not have occurred to anyone on their own. Leadership Nuggets • Create an environment that encourages constructive dissent • Don't be afraid to shake up the status quo • 1 + 1 = 3 • Don't confuse honest dissent with disloyalty or subversion • Diversity of opinion makes us smarter; groupthink makes us dumber • Harmony is overrated • Express disagreement respectfully, always • Exercise an open mind; use the Socratic method to encourage critical thinking • Ask for advice when you need it, and listen when it is offered • Accept genuine dissent and criticism as it's intended and learn from it • Remember that disagreement does not equal disloyalty • Listen first, talk second • Sometimes, the best decisions are made by coloring outside the lines • Part of a leader's job is to play the role of devil's advocate • Conflict is an unavoidable part of human nature; great leaders manage conflict to drive positive organizational improvement Lesson #2: Create an Environment of Empowerment "We learn from our mistakes—pure and sim- ple. Most of us can only improve after we know what it feels like to have screwed up. You have to give your people the freedom to screw up." – Sonny Barger Modern Business Application This may seem like an odd statement com- ing from the leader of a band of ruthless crimi- nals, but Sonny understood that ruling with an iron fist and instilling the fear of failure just wouldn't work. Whether you are leading a group of tough and violent bikers or a team of factory workers, to be productive and creative, people need the freedom to make their own decisions, even when they are wrong. Expect- ing people to come up with the only solution acceptable to the leader is not empowerment; it is called politics, which is counterproductive. Leadership Nuggets • Training and resources build the founda- tion for an empowered environment • Don't micromanage; encourage empower- ment but require accountability • Clearly define roles and boundaries to avoid inefficiency through redundancy • Challenge your employees, align on objectives, and then get out of their way

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