Many CEO’s are told what they want to hear, rather than what team members really think. That’s a foolish way to avoid butting heads with the boss.
I asked Jamie Naughton, Speaker of the House for Zappos, to talk about a time when she butted heads with her famous CEO, Tony Hsieh. Jamie indicated that issues don’t escalate to head butting.
“There’s no argument, ever. If I don’t like something, then I just say it.”
How to avoid butting heads with the boss:
- Establish disagreement-rules. Ask your CEO how he best receives disagreement.
- Fully align with organizational values.
- Advocate for the organization not yourself.
- Say what you believe not what’s expected.
- Disagree early, clearly, politely, and specifically.
- Constantly communicate. Express opinions when you have them. Flare ups occur when issues build up.
- Once decisions are made, grab an oar and row, regardless of your position.
- Bonus: Add positive options.
Butting heads and who decides:
“The best thing about Tony as a CEO, as a boss, … He will give direction. He will give advice. … He’s going to be part of the conversation but he’s not the decision-maker.” Jamie Naughton.
Corporate teams fear CEO’s because CEO’s make too many decisions. Jamie explained that her boss would never make a decision about phone systems or sponsorship opportunities, for example. “Why would he approve a sponsorship when we have a marketing team who’s trained?” Jamie Naughton.
“He’s – Tony Hsieh – not going to interfere with my department because I know it best. He’s going to offer suggestions and I take it or leave it.” Jamie Naughton.
What suggestions do you have for disagreeing with the boss?