Do You Appreciate the Value of Dissent? 6 Tips to Leverage Dissent for an Effective Management Team

Generally speaking, people like to surround themselves with individuals or groups that have similar views and opinions.  Life is easier if we don’t need to debate every point or decision that is required in our lives. This may be fine for certain aspects of life, but when it comes to leading an effective management team, this will usually result in a broader organization that has no soul. 

Differing perspectives are critical to get to the best answer possible when solving difficult problems that every company faces.  No one knows everything, whether they think they do or not.  From personal experience, critical decisions effecting a company’s success or failure require thoughtful, meaningful and open discussions, with varying perspectives, to land on the most appropriate course of action. Great leaders welcome these discussions; they teach as much as they learn as part of this decision making process.

An environment that fosters a culture of open and honest communication, as is being discussed, is also critical in the development of those around us (those that we are leading).  Allowing others to express their opinion in a setting that is respectful and appreciative of dissenting views helps to build the next great leaders in our organizations – it builds critical thinking, collaboration, engagement and confidence, to name just a few. 

The following are 6 tips for leaders that want to create an effective management team: 

  1. Surround yourself with different personalities, styles and opinions – search for those that are different, whether it be within your organization or during the hiring process.  Different cultural, educational and professional experiences can add a spark to a stagnant management team.
  2. Let people speak their minds and listen to what others have to say – now that you have a diverse management team, give everyone a forum to be heard. Create an environment where people are comfortable being the dissenting view and ensure that the team genuinely listens to each other’s perspectives.
  3. Understand the perspective of others – as the team interacts, try to understand the reason and logic behind the different points of views. Ask yourself – What is making this person think so differently than others?  What are the challenges this person is facing that may need to be considered in the decision we are about to make?  If they are so passionate about their perspective, could this decision be more significant (have a greater impact on the company or our people) than we originally thought?  
  4. Be the mediator – find common ground among the team. As the leader, you need to synthesize the ideas that are similar, while recognizing those that are not.
  5. Make decisions – Don’t let dissent prevent you from making decisions. It is the responsibility of the leader to take these varying opinions and make a decision.  At the same time, don’t be afraid to change your original position based on the discussion, or step out of your comfort zone if the plan of action has the consensus of the majority of the team.
  6. Speak with one voice – ensure that your management team speaks with one voice.  Differing opinions are critical behind closed doors, but can be destructive if those that did not get their way do not support the final decision publicly. The team needs to recognize that once the decision is made, the team needs to sell it, whether it is exactly what they were arguing for or not.

This management style is difficult for some.  Let’s be honest, certain managers get to a point in their career by thinking that they know everything (or at least giving the impression they do).  Great leaders, however, get to this point in their career because they recognize that they don’t.

Prism Partners International can help you develop your management team and the leaders in your organization by identifying and developing the skills needed to be successful.  Through our model, we can isolate the areas for improvement and hold people accountable to make the necessary adjustments for success.

Please contact us to learn how we can help.  We invite you sign-up for our weekly blog posts at  We also ask that you join our LinkedIn group, Strategic Human Capital Alignment Forum, Like Us on Facebook (Prism Partners International) and Follow Us on Twitter (@PrismPartners).