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A Leader Flips Sides When He Is Winning a Debate. Why?

A Leader Flips Sides When He Is Winning a Debate. Why?
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The lessons I learned from Michigan Football Coach Bo Schembechler still inform my thinking about leadership and team building. Here is a snapshot of Bo’s leadership on the importance of diverse perspectives.


I had been with four organizations in my career by the time I was in my early thirties. And now, as a member of the University of Michigan Football Staff under Head Coach Bo Schembechler, I was witnessing something very puzzling and new. Bo’s staff meetings started first thing in the morning, with twelve of us around a large boardroom table. The meetings were always energized, and there were often heated debates about strategy or personnel. During one emotional discussion, it was clear Bo was winning his point. Much to my surprise, he pivoted and began arguing the opposite side, instead of claiming victory! I could not have been more confused, as I had never seen this before. What was he doing?

Diverse Perspectives Bring Balance

When too many align on one side, all sharing the same perspective, objective decision-making becomes elusive. This is where the true value of diverse perspectives shines. Striving for a balance encompassing all sides of the represented challenge opens the door for the best decision. It is the intellectual challenge of trying to comprehend someone else’s viewpoint that truly fosters new understandings and perspectives, potentially leading to even better outcomes.

Focus on What is Best for the Team

What is truly best for the team? Keeping the bigger picture in mind and prioritizing what is collectively beneficial allows us to relinquish our personal stake and offer our perspective for what it is: an opinion based in our unique experience. This mindset helps us set aside our own ego for the team, and we can truly respect and consider others’ viewpoints, fostering a synergy that can lead to a significantly better outcome. The result is a shared ownership of the solution, and execution of the solution accelerates.

Gifted leaders possess the critical leadership skill of always thinking in terms of what is best for the team, regardless of their biased opinions personally. It is not about them; it is about their responsibility to facilitate the best decision that can be made. It is through the open and transparent desire to gain input from trusted team members that leaders capitalize on the collective intelligence and ensure the best decision-making.

As Bo taught so many, it is always about The Team, The Team, The Team.

#ShiftFromMeToTeam #Team #Leadership #Perspective