Do Leaders Like Dissent?

By |Published On: November 18, 2013|

I read an interesting article today.  It was an interview with Bob Pittman, Chairman and CEO of Clear Channel Communications.  You can read the article here.

What I found interesting and valuable about the article was Mr. Pittman’s point of view on dissent and on making mistakes.  I think many leaders think they are always right and certainly want to be right – after all some would think leaders don’t become leaders by failing right?  Mr. Pittman has a different theory.

First, as a leader he not only encourages dissent but insists on it.  When his team proposes a new idea to him, he listens carefully then asks what the dissenting point of view is.  If there isn’t one, he makes his team find it.  If there is one, he requires the team to listen to it.  Often listening to the dissenting point of view helps to make the activity more successful – you’ve already considered the pitfalls or possible road blocks and prepared for them.

Second, Mr. Pittman encourages his team members to make mistakes.  He recognizes that if people are afraid of making mistakes, they don’t take risks.  If they don’t take risks, great things cannot happen.  In fact, he takes this concept one step further.  He calls it “weeding the garden”.  He knows for every ten ideas his team implements, two will be successes, two will be obvious failures and six will be mediocre.  He doesn’t want to continue with the failures but he also doesn’t want to continue with the mediocre ideas.  So, he has his team constantly “weed the garden” of them.

Interesting leadership ideas from a very successful leader.  Thanks for reading the blog this week.

I am going to go “weed the garden”.

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