Not long ago, I heard a comment that grabbed my attention. It is an observation worth thinking about: “In our society, we honor living conformists and dead nonconformists.” There seems to be a lot of truth in that statement. Setting aside the larger social context to consider this from the perspective of leaders and organizations, there are some interesting corollaries. Leaders who move their organizations forward are often independent thinkers who aren’t afraid to take a stand out there on their own. Certainly there are times when a caretaker leader is needed to stabilize a situation, but that is a short term job description. The willingness to be a nonconformist sometimes leads to honor, but it’s not guaranteed, nor is it an easy road. In my view, there is a fine balance between marching to your own drummer and being the esteemed leader of the orchestra. Be someone the musicians can relate to and want to collaborate with to make music.
Food for Thought ~
Considering a different perspective, what is the value to an organization of the dissidents, the employees who question and even criticize? The conformists in an organization are often acknowledged for being team players and well-liked, and the people who ask the hard questions and make the seemingly outrageous suggestions are also providing something of value – challenges to our assumptions, beliefs, and habits. And that’s a good thing. A skillful leader is able to listen to the skeptics, appreciate the kernel of truth that’s usually present and learn something useful therein.
Question for the day ~
Are you comfortable being the minority opinion? Do you listen with an open, non-defensive mind to the voices that raise objections and questions?