One of the greatest assets a business owner can have is a team that will disagree with you.
And while I know that sounds counter-intuitive, it’s worked for every great leader I can think of.
Abraham Lincoln is remembered for building his cabinet full of worthy rivals who could go toe-to-toe with him.
Likewise, JFK only really wanted to hear from those that didn’t agree with his point of view (the transcripts of the Cuban Missile Crisis capture this perfectly, you can read them here if you want).
I say this because Lachy and I just got off the phone after 48 minutes of what was, at times, passionate disagreement.
And while some people might find disagreement with your business partner (or team member) uncomfortable, we’ve both learned to embrace it… because we ended the call in decisive agreement.
And it’s almost certain that neither of us would have come up with the solution we did if we’d gone at it alone.
Which is all that matters.
The contents of the disagreement?
I can’t say much yet, except to say we’re launching a new education product that will turn the typical “talk at you” education approach on its head, combining old-school forum posting with NFT-style perks and a curriculum that is going to be game-changing.
But it also makes me think about what I’ve been speaking about this month in my emails:
Is your business activity aligned with your values?
Passionate disagreement is something Lachy and I have always had between us (and it’s been responsible for most of our best work and ideas), but it’s probably not something we’ve expressly communicated with our team that we want to encourage.
Because while it’s certainly harder to passionately disagree with someone who’s your boss, it could also be why a great idea never makes it to the surface.
This is why expressly communicating your own values (whatever they are) is a foundational element of effective business ownership, despite it usually being left in the ‘later’ pile when it comes to business priorities.
Leaving it in the later pile is something that you can probably get away with when you’re a small team (values are more immersive in a tight-knit group), but it will bite you in the butt if you ignore it when the strength of your team is more important than the strength of you.
There is a great lesson about Steve Jobs in this regard:
Steve Jobs 1.0 was “the genius with a thousand helpers”.
And that worked until it no longer did (Apple was on the edge of bankruptcy before the launch of the Macintosh).
Steve Jobs 2.0 became “the man behind the team of geniuses.”
More on that in a later email.
– Karl Goodman