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Have Backbone; Disagree and Commit




Do you, as a leader, have backbone? Disagree and commit?


Why do I ask?

While researching other companies’ ways of working (it’s always useful to learn from others) I was reminded of Amazon’s 16 leadership principles. The principle that jumped out at me was:


Have Backbone; Disagree and Commit

Leaders are obligated to respectfully challenge decisions when they disagree, even when doing so is uncomfortable or exhausting. Leaders have conviction and are tenacious. They do not compromise for the sake of social cohesion. Once a decision is determined, they commit wholly.”


It seems like this is a sensible and courageous leadership principle. We all have different backgrounds, experiences and abilities. We see things from different perspectives. The earlier we catch problems and mistakes the less costly it is to a business.


What makes me curious is what happens when decisions are challenged.


What do you do when your decision is challenged? React or respond?


For clarification, here’s a nice clear description of the difference between react and respond from Langeek


Thoughtful vs. Impulsive

To 'respond' refers to acting in a deliberate, thoughtful, and often planned manner when faced with a particular situation. It implies taking time to consider and evaluate the stimulus or situation before acting. 


'React', on the other hand, refers to a more immediate and instinctive response to a particular stimulus or situation. It suggests a more spontaneous action without much thought or planning. Unlike, 'responding' which is planned and thoughtful, 'reacting' often involves a quick, emotional, or impulsive response to a stimulus, often without careful consideration.


So what do you do when your decision is challenged?


Do you react? 

Do you feel under attack? 

Do you get irritated at having to explain it all again when you have so little time? 

Do you tell them that you’ve already thought the decision through and they need to commit to making it happen?


Or do you respond? 

Do you become curious? 

Do you pay attention and listen without interruption?

Do you ask them what more they think, or feel, or want to say? 

Do you take the time to think it through? 

And only then decide whether to agree or disagree?


Whatever your decision, do you appreciate them for their courage in not compromising for the sake of social cohesion?


Being responsive often isn’t easy and it’s your duty to respond. 


If you recognise that you tend to react, what do you think you can do to change your behaviour and become responsive?


If you’d like to learn about being responsive and taking the time to think, why not come and join me as I facilitate Agile Delta's Time To Think training courses? Click here or get in touch for more information.


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