Challenging The Status Quo

Sep 30, 2021

"It sounds so nice, what you're proposin'
Just once or twice, and not disclosin'
And not disclosin' how we're really really feelin'"

Not exactly the most poetic of songs to share as I kick off this message, but I had to find something from Status Quo once I'd put their name in the title! 🤣

Just kidding. These three lines tell a story from many people's lives. There are lots of people who don't like confrontation and, as a result, say what they think other people want to hear. In this case, the first line "It sounds so nice, what you're proposin'".

The problem emerges in line three, "And not disclosin' how we're really really feelin'". Effectively, if we avoid confrontation, we bottle up our emotions at a cost to just one person - ourselves.

Challenging Our View Of Challenge

Challenging is also seen by many as an act of confrontation. It doesn't have to be this way.

Instead, let's consider challenging as an act of curiosity.

If someone says something you feel is wrong, inappropriate or hurtful, the straightest line to resolving the issue is to be curious.

Why do they think that? What has influenced their thinking?

"That's an interesting point of view which I haven't heard before. Tell me, how did you come to that conclusion?"

This approach, if done genuinely, demonstrates that you have spotted an opportunity to learn something new.

From there, the most congruous thing to do is to take note of what they say. If you can do this literally, by writing down their response, you will be able to gather your thoughts, listen more intently and do your best to understand why they think a certain way.

 What we are doing with this approach is challenging the idea, not the person.

Challenging Prompts Thinking

There are benefits for everyone involved if we learn to challenge effectively. If someone says something you wish to challenge, your challenge will prompt them to think. Their next response will also cause you to think and your conversation will enable everyone listening to think harder about the subject too.

This 3D way of thinking about challenge is incredibly powerful. It injects thinking into voids. Individuals, teams and organisational environments don't create much space for thinking. Ask yourself;

  • When was the last time you allowed yourself the time to really think - during the working day?
  • When was the last time you actively thought as a team?
  • What environments or organisational routines exist to stimulate or prompt thinking?

Usually the answer is "too long ago"!

By encouraging challenge in our organisations and in our teams, and embracing it as individuals, we can transform our effectiveness and access greater levels of sophistication in our thinking.

Challenging Like A Maverick

This week's video is the latest episode of The Change Show in which I interview Judith Germain, author of The Maverick Paradox. It's a fascinating insight into the mind of someone who is keen to inject critical thinking and challenge into the leadership arena. Jude and I are also colleagues at The Change Maker Group and she definitely walks the talk, keeping us all on our toes and pushing to think harder about the way we do things.

 If you'd like to know more about Maverick Leadership or stimulating greater levels of thinking inside your projects and teams, get in touch.



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