Ask Your Team for Disconfirming Information

Are people only telling you what you want to hear?

Summary
Transcript

Brian Wells, co-founder of Flashlight Entertainment, says one of the challenges as a leader is to identify whether or not your team is willing to provide you with accurate information—even if it doesn’t confirm what you know or what you want.

He calls this valuable input “disconfirming information," and asserts that it is vital to leading a group well. "It's pretty clear to other people in the organization what that leader wants to hear," Brian says, "and so you can find yourself only having people bring you confirming information when you're looking at a project, confirming information when you're looking for a deal."

Watch this video to discover how you can enable the people around you to bring you solid feedback, research and disconfirming information.

I think one of the other big challenges for us as leaders is actually success, because once you kind of start to accumulate a little success, you have a choice where you start to have the luxury of only having people bring you information that confirms what you already want or confirms what you already know. And you know most strong leaders have pretty strong personalities, so it's pretty clear to their team around them. It's pretty clear to other people in the organization what that leader wants to hear, and so you can find yourself only having people bring you confirming information when you're looking at a project, confirming information when you're looking for a deal.

I got some advice from an investment banker once that the most valuable thing that you can do as a leader is spend a disproportionate amount of time looking for disconfirming information. Come up with a theory of what you think is true, what you want to be true, and then work your butt off to try to disprove yourself. And when you do that, then you know that you're in a really solid place.

So many of these things as a leader comes down to what you're rewarding, what are you measuring and what are you rewarding. And so, people on teams very quickly smell out if they bring you bad information, if they bring you information that goes against what your hunch was, they go and bring you information that you didn't want, didn't tell you what you wanted to hear, are they affirmed for it? Are they rewarded for it? Or are they subtly punished? That in and of itself will determine whether you continue to receive transparent information so that you can lead from, or if you just receive things that people think you want to hear.
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Brian Wells

Brian Wells’ entrepreneurial ventures kicked off at the age of nine when his mom caught him selling his deceased grandfather’s belongings to the neighbor kids out of the family garage. It was Brian’s first lesson in how even the most ...

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