The importance of disagreeing with your team!

I was at the VentureCatalysts HQ last night heading a workshop on a subject that I love talking about – “So you have raised funding… now what?”

One of the points I brought up during the session was the importance of setting boundaries with the team by using the word “no”. The squeamish attitude of the founders made it clear that the act of giving rejection was a new experience for most of them and while it was good to hear it is dangerous to implement!

It is common for new entrepreneurs, managers, leaders, etc to agree to the team’s or team member’s suggestion so that they are well liked as the leader of the team. That strategy may work for a short while but it can quickly become fatal for the organisation if the team looks at the leader as someone without a backbone i.e. who will agree to anything.

The leader’s duty is to make decisions that are in the best interest of the organisation and not in his/her selfish interest to be well liked. Instead of trying to win a personality contest the leader should be interested in the leading the team to the promised land by rejecting an idea that isn’t in the interest of the organisation. Secondly, a well intentioned rejection gives a good idea of the equation the team member receiving the rejection, has with its leader.

As a founder, entrepreneur , manager and even in their personal lives, a leader is frequently rejected, the promotion they didn’t get, the investor who wouldn’t agree, the client who wouldn’t sign and the list goes on. The leader picks himself up from the rejection dusts off the hurt and gets up to face up to his next challenge – why then do you treat your understudies with kiddie gloves?

Well rounded teams, well funded organisations and the best of intentions have been destroyed by their leaders becoming “yes” man. A leader should be as comfortable rejecting someone as they are agreeing with someone and if saying no puts the fear of losing the team, then team has an unhealthy equation with its leader.

Rejection is as much a part of life as is acceptance so get in the habit of saying “no” and start it off like I did to the room full of founders by.. yelling NO at the top of your voice!