Why business leaders must listen to opinion that goes against the grain
Friday May 12 2023
To strongly advance an unpopular opinion one must first be certain that it is grounded not just in blind belief but by research and/or experimentation.
That way it will stay shielded against ‘well-beaten path’ enthusiasts and naysayers who may try to throw ‘dirt’ at it.
Being able to quote the facts gives one an edge over those whose arguments may not be as factual and thus gives one the wherewithal to stand up to arguments against it.
This said though, it pays to advance one’s contrary views in a way that does not rub others the wrong way.
Arrogance just does not pay in cases where you want to put forward contrary arguments.
Humility is a key leadership trait and pays well in most leadership situations but in none more than this one.
Humility does not mean that you back down when the counter-arguments are thrown against your view, but rather that you stand firm in your ‘defence’, doing so without ‘offence’.
Be bold, invite the audience into your worldview without stutter and reel off the facts when prompted to do so.
Sometimes, however, even when one is armed with facts and experimental results that prove their opinion, they are still uncomfortable voicing them out because of the ‘need’ to conform.
Appreciating that you are different and therefore entitled to think and act differently goes a long way in overcoming that ‘need’ and instead act in the way pointed out above.
Differences in the way people view life arise because each of us was built differently. Appreciating those differences is as key in this as it is in other leadership arenas.
This said though, while we are all different, there will always be one or two or even more like-minded people around you with whom you can coalesce around your opinion.
Building a like-minded fraternity that agrees with your opinion and is willing to stand by you will help one who is still not confident to stand by a contrary view face the intended audience, for as the saying goes, there is security in numbers.
Finally, if you are well-armed and well-prepared for a good debate you must never be intimidated by your standing in the society in which you need to voice your unpopular view.
Take a lesson from Italian astronomer Galileo Galilei (1564-1642) who, although was a school dropout, and who by standing in society was shoulders below the ‘clergy’ in the Catholic church at the time, was not intimidated into failing to air his view.
The writer is the Managing Director, of Kenya Breweries Limited.