All opposition is not bad. As leaders we have our blind spots and can be stubborn with our own ideas. When someone resists us, we can learn from it as opposed to  be defensive and close-minded. Dan Rockwell shares 5 responses to reasoned resistance. Read, learn and grow!

Originally posted by Dan Rockwell


The line between bold and foolish is often determined by success or failure.

Fearful organizations are full of people who know why it’s better to stay the same.

Remarkable success requires boldness, but bold leaders fail more.

Subtle opposition to change:

Disingenuous concern:

Critics and opponents use questions that sound like concern. I remember a secretary who said, “When I don’t want to do something, I ask lots of questions.” She uses distraction and foot dragging to escape change. Her questions seem like concern.

Disguised cowardice:

Cowardice comes disguised as wisdom in top-down organizations that automatically punish failure. Fearful leaders say, “It seems like a good idea,” but won’t commit.

Cowardly leaders support risk-takers and punish them when they fail.

Self-protective career building:

Career builders protect themselves by hanging back until success seems assured. They speak opposition privately in after meetings.


The difference between average and exceptional begins with boldness.

If you don’t feel afraid, you aren’t leading. Leadership requires courage. The more courage you display, the more courage you inspire and the more resistance you invite.

The cure for cowardly resistance is hope. Exploring cowardly resistance validates cowardice. The solution to reasoned resistance is forward-facing exploration.

5 responses to reasoned resistance:

Forward-facing exploration:

  1. What are we missing? What am I missing?
  2. How might we test these ideas in an acceptable way?
  3. What makes staying the same better than trying something new? How might we answer your concerns?
  4. What happens if things stay the same?
  5. Next year at this time, what will we wish we had done? Not done?

Leaders who push back on reasoned resistance, without exploring it, create more resistance.

What behaviors exemplify fearful organizations?

How might leaders respond to reasoned resistance?