In one of Andrew’s classes last week, the professor went through the 1957 movie, 12 Angry Men, looking at scenes that typify behaviours in teams: the reluctant leader, the angry guy with a hidden motive, bullying and ganging up, and following-the-leader not only on crucial decisions but in how things get done…all of these and more can be seen throughout this fascinating movie that was actually nominated for Best Picture.
(Oh yes, if you are wondering, we rented 12 Angry Men and I really enjoyed it, not only for the great acting but also for the running commentary courtesy of Harvard.)
As I watched the foreman declare he thought the accused was guilty and THEN ask for the first show of hands on guilt or innocence, I thought about how tricky it can be sometimes to hold back on saying what I think. If I really do want input from my team, then I need to be aware of how much enthusiasm I express about my bright new ideas.
Last week I suggested to our catering coordinator that we could use a design firm to tweak images sent to us by customers that don’t meet our edible printer’s resolution standards – and I added in my email that this might be a “dumb idea”. Her diplomatic response was: “I don’t think it’s a dumb idea, just maybe more involved than would be ideal.” And then she went on to explain her thoughts on how to handle the issue (turns out it doesn’t arise that often).
So there’s two aspects, I guess – one is that a small business owner needs to be clear that honest feedback is welcome and then when it is given, she can’t get all defensive about it. Of course there are going to be decisions that the leader/owner is standing alone on – that is what leadership is about (“lonely at the top”!). But I feel that an honest effort to not direct the conversation on a topic too much pays off in the quality of decisions a team can make.