7 Ways I’m Learning to “Disagree and Commit”

Jeff Bezos of Amazon fame wrote a well-circulated article to his shareholders. You can read it here: Jeff Bezos’ Shareholder Letter

In my industry of church, the implications of his letter are equally important. My guess is any industry where leadership is required to make decisions would benefit from adopting a version of these ideas (that’s everyone, btw).

When our leadership team discussed this article, we spent some time on what Jeff calls “High-Velocity Decision Making.” Within this section, he tells a story of how he disagreed with a specific direction one team was taking, but after voicing his opinion through several heated conversations, he decided to “disagree and commit.”

That simple phrase, “disagree and commit,” hit home for many of us, including me. It is certainly an empowering concept in leadership — empowering because it frees those in our organization to move forward without requiring consensus and without the usual ramifications. Obviously, having consensus is helpful, but it’s elusive. Let’s be honest — all leaders have opinions, and the odds of everyone’s opinion aligning for consensus is relatively small. That’s why being able to commit, even without consensus, is empowering. As for ramifications? Being able to decide and move forward without fear of leadership reprisal is even more empowering.

As a leader myself with plenty of opinions, Jeff’s advice rings true. Here’s how I am personally trying to follow his “disagree and commit” mantra, and what I’m hoping it does for our church:

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4 Steps to Not Overreact to the Disgruntled Attendee

As a leader you are forced to make decisions, and if your church or company is bigger than you, these decisions will inevitably be upsetting to someone. Decisions have a way of upsetting the status quo. In many cases, the lack of success or progress with the status quo is why decisions are necessary.

Not to oversimplify it, but when decisions are made, the response seems to come from two separate categories of people:

1. The vocal disgruntled
2. The quiet supporters

The first category causes us to question our decision. The response (at least the vocal response) seems disproportionately in one direction. And this disproportionate response can be unnerving.

The second category really does bring balance to the conversation, but their quiet support doesn’t ring as loudly as the disgruntled.

Facing this seemingly unbalanced response, leaders begin to either question their decisions, or worse, seek to make decisions that are more “vocally” supported.

But vocal support can feel like an organizational oxymoron. You’ve never called your local pizza delivery chain to thank them for your delivery, but you might have called to complain when your pie is late. People never call our church to tell us we’re doing a great job, but they have no problem letting us know when something doesn’t happen as they expect.

So what should we do when the vocal disgruntled feels like the vast majority? Continue reading…

When What You Want To Do is Different Than What You Need To Do

What makes leadership difficult?

We could probably create a laundry list of great answers.

For me, point decision-making certainly fits on the list. A level of decisiveness is required for leadership, but while some decisions are routine and simple, others are unfamiliar and complex. For me, the most difficult decisions rise when what I want to do is different than what I need to do.

Have you ever faced a decision that lived in the middle of this tension? Through my years of leading companies and churches, I’ve faced more than a few decisions where what I wanted to do was different than what I needed to do. For instance, there have been times I’ve wanted to keep a staff member, but they needed to move on to new opportunities (that’s a nice way to say it, right?). There have been times I’ve wanted to include everyone on a team, but not everyone provided value to the team. There have been times when I wanted to eat chicken fingers rather than a salad (see, it works in all facets of life!).

I believe the willingness to make tough decisions is a key indicator of sustainable leadership. 

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