Have you ever been in one of those meetings where everyone knows that the idea being presented is wrong/unprofitable/impossible/full of holes etc? This fill in the blank idea tends to be presented by someone in a power position and thus we are compelled to listen.
After the meeting everyone chats about how this is silly/a waste of time/broken and yet they have their notepads of takeaways and will go about building the business case for executing said imperfect project.
Have you ever wanted to stand up and ask where the idea came from or called out the holes in the theory?
Have you ever actually voiced the questions everyone is thinking and not saying out loud?
Asking the question makes you the face of an “unpopular” opinion. Personally I struggle to think that it is truly unpopular or contrary. More likely what you are voicing is just not the opinion of the top ranking individual presenting it.
Asking the hard questions is often looked at as a career limiting move.
So being the voice of reason may stunt your career path. Hmm. A bit wrong maybe?
This is where you see the difference between a great leader and a person with a great title.
Great leaders encourage having their ideas challenged. They encourage debate and conversations around new initiatives. This is not to say that you will not be asked to leave the room and proceed with building the business case, but you will be welcomed to speak and voice contrary opinions. Discussion about the gaps show us weaknesses that we can identify and correct before putting a product or service out to market and the best leaders know that.
The person with a great title will shut down the debate before it has begun. They are sure that the product or service is perfect and will save the quarter/make the world a better place/end war and they are not willing to have it challenged. So I challenge you to ask the hard questions.
Yes, you may be the guy that calls out the elephant in the room, but at least you didn’t pretend it wasn’t there.
You will also be the person that can leave the room with your notepad full of takeaways and in place of the gossiping you would have done, you can continue the debate.
If your boss is merely a Great Title, I don’t think the silly project is your issue. Trade in your “title holder” for a genuine leader and live a happier more satisfying life.
If you discover that you are the title, take this lesson as a step towards becoming a great leader.
Knowledge is power and can propel both you and your team forward.