What do you do if your ideas on how to grow your business get pushback? What if your team doesn’t agree with you and has other ideas? Celebrate! Really? Really. Diversity in opinion can be a great strength for your business, resulting in more innovation, more creativity and better problem-solving than any business owner could provide on his or her own.
As you build your business, consider surrounding yourself with people who have the skills, experience and organizational fit you need, but who don’t think just like you. Look for the broadest range of perspectives possible. Will there be some uncomfortable moments? You bet. But you will find strength at your boardroom table that will allow you to move your business forward in exciting new ways. Here are some ways to foster diversity of opinion:
- Encourage everyone to speak up: Do some members of your team rarely speak up during important meetings? Ask them for their thoughts. It can take a lot of courage for some people to speak up in a team meeting. Likewise, if you have someone who always provides their opinion, drowning out others or leaving little time for others to speak, take steps so that everyone is able to contribute. Make sure that everyone is respectful and doesn’t interrupt.
- See it from the perspective of others: Just because something might seem obvious or ‘right’ to you, it doesn’t mean someone else views it the same way. Teach your team that just because someone has an opposing or radically different opinion, it shouldn’t be viewed as a direct attack on their own. As a leader, it’s your job to make sure that everyone understands that you are seeking a productive sharing of differing viewpoints. And that there truly is no such thing as a ‘bad’ idea.
- Celebrate differences: Even if views are dramatically different, know that you don’t have to agree on everything to work together well or to come together on business issues that matter, like projects and strategy.
- Make people feel unique and valued: The power of your team as a combined force of thinkers and creators is important, but each individual is also important. Taking time to recognize individual contributions and the unique skill sets or assets each person brings to the team is a significant way to ensure that no one feels left out or that their point of view is “too different.” Spend enough time listening to each member of your team to learn about their opinions and ideas. Ask follow-up questions that show them you are interested in what they have to say.
Of course, we all know that any company’s vision has to be the guiding force. Healthy diversity can translate into a more robust strategy for achieving that vision — as long as everyone on the team is trying to achieve the vision. That buy-in is key.