The majority of businesses are shaped in the same way, businesses typically set up in the way they have always done it and often hire traditional leadership style teams and organise their management teams around department lead, versus, hiring good leaders to add different dynamics to leadership teams and add different values to the business.
The Devils Advocate
Playing devil’s advocate can be fun, it can however be exhausting and often certain “leaders” become known as that person.
There is something about the person who always plays devil advocate, it is one of the known tactics consultancies use to help their clients to think differently.
When management consultants take senior roles within businesses, they will often take on the role and play devil’s advocate, some will often be the person who asks “is this the next $x million opportunity‘ or “is this big enough?”.
One of the core issues with having a contrarian is they often enable combat (not conflict) within the company especially within their own team, their approach is often mocked and will often have knock-on effects for the business and subsequently can have a negative impact on the company sub culture.
Being known as contrarian often has an underlining negative connection to it.
The Contrarian Challenge
Very often this can be grating on the management team and particularly when teams pitch at the “lead” and they create friction by always playing their contrarian role.
An important point here is to understand that the contrarian is either something that you enable and support the combative side of the contrarian approach.
Or you acknowledge and address it as a role (opportunity) people play.
Disagree To Commit Or Commit To Agree
The contrarian is a role that can be challenging, it can be the role that many management teams look to remove to ensure they have a team that agrees and commits quickly to the plan they co-create.
Each business is different, however, the approach of removing the contrarian is often a deliberate and intentional one, especially to gain alignment quickly.
This is not right for every business but often it can be an effective one if you need to move fast and reduce friction.
Executive Leadership Team Contrarian
If you do not have that role within your management team or you have someone who asks the devil’s advocate or acts as the contrarian, a successful way to approach having the right balance is to before meetings or strategy sessions is to appoint a contrarian and their job is to smartly ask the challenging questions.
It is to challenge the idea or point being pitched and to get to the bottom of the issue or the pitch to truly enable your teams for success.
The idea of the contrarian isn’t just to be seen as challenging but to ensure the best possible outcome is considered and then followed up with a detailed and actionable plan.
Your Next Steps
In the next few weeks look to create a rotating role as the contrarian and introduce a way to challenge ideas, concepts and challenges in a different way to get the best out of people and create a more rounded, evolving leadership team.
Want To Become A Better Leader?
Join hundreds of smart execs signed up to the weekly leadership newsletter and join the likes of Amazon, Google, Facebook, LinkedIn, EA Sports & Venture Capital looking to become the next generation of business leaders.