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Disagree and commit

 22 February 2021     Donald Cooper 

I have often written about the huge value of encouraging team input and ‘respectful debate’ in your business. Doing so achieves a higher level of employee engagement and results in better decisions and improved buy-in. When we listen to our team, two things happen. First, we learn from them and, second, we honour them.

I just came across an extraordinary article on this subject by Roy H. Williams who promotes himself as The Wizard of Ads.

Roy’s article – titled Disagree and Commit – appears below. It refers to an important conversation Roy had recently with a business-owner friend. It’s an insightful, compelling and valuable read. It outlines a conversation many of you need to have with your team. Here is what he had to say:

My friend and I were sitting in my backyard sharing a bottle of wine. He said, “Last week I got all 250 of my employees together on a Zoom call and told them, ‘You will be included in all major decisions we make as a company. You can disagree passionately and share your opinion while we’re in the discussion phase, but once a decision has been made, you need to commit to the successful implementation of that decision as though it had been your own.

  • ‘To disagree, work half-heartedly and receive a paycheck is not an option.
  • ‘To disagree, covertly sabotage the plan and receive a paycheck is not an option.
  • ‘To disagree, whisper behind closed doors and receive a paycheck is not an option.
  • ‘You can either recuse yourself by turning in your resignation, or you can disagree and commit. Those are your options’.”

My friend is strong, fair and a marvelous employer. I’ve always admired him. Raised in a family with no money, he became stunningly successful by the time he was 40.

We always like to believe we, personally, have the best answers and our team should listen to us. But all of us are usually smarter than any of one of us.

Even if you own the joint, your task is not to have all the answers. Your job is to find the best answers and then involve the team in implementation plans that work. The deeper in the organization those plans come from, the more likely they are to stick.

In the most successful companies, the best plans come from open – and often heated – group discussions among staff and management. If any team member believes they can improve a plan, they should communicate what they would change, why they would change it and how they would implement that change. But once they’ve had their say, everyone’s job is to come together to make the plan succeed brilliantly.

Then, when it does succeed, celebrate, celebrate, celebrate!  This will make you the leader everyone wants to follow!

To Roy’s remarks, I would add: Do you need to have a similar conversation with your team and, if so, when will you do it?

Here are a few other tidbits to think about:

Business quote of the week (something I learned along the way): Hire the best lawyer, accountant, technology experts, web designers and business advisors you can find. Surround yourself with professionals. Sex is usually best with an enthusiastic amateur, but everything else in life is better done by a pro.

This is going to look great in my obituary! I recently delivered my second session for The Scottish Institute for Business Leaders (SIBL). They kindly referred to it as a ‘master class’ in management and honoured me with the title of ‘Visiting Chair of Management with the Scottish Institute for Business Leaders’. So, apparently, any time I go to Scotland, I will have a place to sit down!

Policies that make you look stupid. We need policies that are customer centric, not policies that make us look stupid or insensitive. In the midst of this COVID-19 pandemic, when folks are urged to stay home, Choice Hotels informed their Loyalty Club members last fall that if they didn’t book a hotel stay by January 1, 2021, they would lose their accumulated points. This is nuts! Don’t do stupid stuff like this.

That’s it for this week. Stay safe. Live brilliantly!


Stearns & Foster
Sealy Canada
This HGO article was written by:
Donald Cooper
Donald Cooper

Donald Cooper has been both a world-class manufacturer and an award-winning retailer. Now, as a business speaker and coach he helps business owners and managers throughout the world to rethink, refocus and re-energize their business to create compelling customer value, clarity of purpose and long-term profitability.


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