Responsible pandemic practices include physical distancing, wearing a mask when in public, and frequent hand washing. Yet following health guidelines does not mean settling for a middle of the road mentality or bland rhetoric that whispers “don’t rock the boat, create controversy or upset others with your contrarian challenges” in other areas.
This is an issue for many teams, organizations and even societies at the moment. How can we show concern, respect and consensus regarding responsible pandemic practices and yet not surrender our contrarian voice that helps us recognize opportunities, calls out distant risks and breaks fearful mentalities that hold us back?
Here’s an example. Speaking to nearly a dozen sales organizations over the past two months, only 20% of them have challenged and adapted their approach to selling and creating business in the Covid 19 future. 80% of these groups are still investing heavily in the past, more concerned with trying not to lose business, rather than realign their sales assets to the changing customer needs and marketplace. Those that have challenged the status quo and adapted did so because of contrarian challenges in their sales leadership teams. Uncomfortable, at times unpleasant, yet necessary to deal with the situation at hand.
Here are four ways to nourish a contrarian challenge in your team:
Push back at mainstream thought, using outside benchmarks from both inside and outside your industry.
Anchor your arguments in a sound diagnosis of the situation. Invest the time to show you clearly understand the situation and this will help people gain trust in you and your contrarian ideas.
Challenge working assumptions of group think. Experts can get too locked into a viewpoint due to too-close-to-the-subject perceptions or working assumptions if nobody challenges them.
Don’t destroy others through your contrarian passion – you need people, all kinds of people to change mainstream course and degrading or alienating others won’t help your cause.
To survive this pandemic, it’s critical that we act in consensus with suggested health guidelines. Yet to thrive in these times and the future, we must continue to exercise our contrarian challenge.