We need to both stand up for our leaders, and stand up to our leaders. It takes lots of wisdom to know when to do what. When you strongly disagree with a decision or direction leaders make who are above you in your  organization, company, church or group, how should you address your concerns? Dan Rockwell shares some helpful advice on how to handle your concerns and disagreements.

Guest Post by Dan Rockwell

Complexity, turbulence, ambiguity, and uncertainty are the environment of painful decisions. Upper management may seem short-sighted, self-serving, and out of touch. At some point you will disagree with leadership in your organization. Disagreements shape life.

Temper resistance:

Pushing against leadership is like carrying hot coals in your pockets. You get burned, they don’t.

The pursuit of clarity is perceived as resistance when done poorly.

Ask questions with openness. Reflect on the big picture. Explore issues with humility. Enter conversations with a view toward organizational success.

10 questions to ask yourself when you disagree with leaders:

  1. What is the impact on your attitude when you reflect on your entire history with this organization?
  2. What do you want for yourself, your team, your organization?
  3. What are the downsides of their decision?
  4. What advantages can you list? (Think short and long-term.)
  5. What concerns you most?
  6. What is within your control?
  7. If you express disagreement, what do you hope to accomplish?
  8. How likely is it that you will be able to influence decisions?
  9. Can you support upper management’s decision even when you disagree?
  10. How will you best serve your team and yourself in the short-term?

5 questions to ask when you disagree with leaders:

    1. What led to this decision?
    2. What alternatives were considered?
    3. What risks are you concerned about? Internal and external?
    4. What is the timeline for reviewing this decision?
    5. What are the best ways for me to express disagreement? Support?

Build team culture:

You can’t control everything, but you can control the way you build positive energy during turbulence.

When upper management’s decisions drain the life out of people…

  1. Don’t pretend it’s easy.
  2. Communicate positive intentions. “We will support each other and thrive in a challenging situation.”
  3. Avoid us/them thinking.
  4. Open your mouth to make things better.
  5. Keep moving forward.

Still curious:

20 Ways to Disagree with your Boss

Facing the Fires of Disagreement, Improvement, and Destructive Criticism

12 leaders’ tips for respectfully disagreeing with your boss