When you encourage rigorous debates you create an effective culture for innovation.
Yet just the opposite is often true, particularly in more mature leadership teams. As I coach such groups, I notice it tends to start from the top -- the leader will hold agreement, comfort, and/or consensus as more important than the disharmony of conflicting views.
Putting consenus above conflict hinders communication and innovation as surely as if you said, "Let's not rock the boat with new ideas."
The power of your people's ideas is enhanced when they can share them openly, and diminished if they are left unchallenged.
As I said, it starts from the top. If you, as the leader, tend to avoid conflict, because it bothers you, you like people to "play nice" or you need them to see things your own way, you're at higher risk for leading your group into an echo chamber of safe ideas.
Innovation needs you to turn off the safety and get that rigorous debate going. Richer contributions from you and your team will follow.
- Is the role of consensus in my organization moving us closer to, or further from, innovation and effective action?
- Do we tend to avoid conflict—and if so, what is my role in that?
- What can I and my leadership team do in the months ahead to upgrade the level of candid, well-intentioned debate?