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Posts & articles that have helped thousands build performance through pragmatic leadership.

Coalition Critics, Skeptics, & Doubters

Some people want to see you fail. They want to see you stumble and they want to see you make the wrong decisions.

When you are proposing a new idea, agenda, or plan you will face what I like to call the “got-you game.” Like we’ve said on this blog before, the “got-you game” starts when you try to build support around your idea. People will say, “You’re idea is not good enough!” or “Can you really handle it?” and it’s your job, as a leader, to say, “Yes, it’s a good idea: here’s why. And, yes, I can handle it: here’s why.” If you can survive the “got-you game” you can gain supporters, coalition members, and allies.

Our conversation ended there. But what happens beyond the “got-you game”? What happens to the critics, skeptics, and devil’s advocates after your idea has been accepted? Do they simply disappear? We all know they don’t, but we all wish they would.

The disappointing truth is a small segment of critics will always exist in most organizations or collations. They will wait for you to fail, drop the ball, and get cake on your face.

Now, you’re playing the “get-you game”–a series of assaults, pranks, and apathetic antics that you want to avoid like mosquitoes on a humid summer day.

The Benefits of the “Get-You Game”

Members of your organization or coalition don’t necessarily want to “get-you” so they can watch the group crash and burn.  Instead, they may want to erect speed-bumps so you will change your course.  Or, they might want to put up road blocks so you stop and consider a new strategy.

That said, leaders need to listen to critics and skeptics. They are a crucial and necessary part of any coalition. After all, they might have a better plan.

Tactics of the “Get-You Game”

The “get-you game” is more subtle than the “got-you game”. Critics looking to “get-you” won’t always be able to or want to decry your idea since it has already been widely adopted. Instead, “get-you” players will employ indirect criticisms and complaints to air their grievances. Worse, “get-you” critics will purposely throw a small wrench into the coalition’s gears by purposefully dragging their feet and stalling projects.

In all, these small forms of protest can cause serious damage to your group’s momentum and production. These indirect assaults can go undetected for quite some time and cause long-term systemic damage.

Beating the “Get-You Game”

To win the “get-you game” you have to get critics to talk to you. You have to ask skeptics, “What don’t you like?” and “What would you do differently?” The talk can’t just end there. You have to prove yourself by clearly explaining your thought process and actions to critics. Take your time and think about what you are going to say before. When critics purpose new ideas to you, it’s time for you to play the “got-you game”. Ask them if their idea is sound, ask them if they are capable, and see if they can defend themselves. If they can’t, tell them to go back to the drawing board. If they can, lose the ego and compare your idea with theirs and create a stronger plan.

Critics and skeptics keep us on our toes. They make sure we don’t go too fast down the wrong road. On the other hand, they can be pests that kill momentum and trigger chaos. They are a dose of common sense or a wallop of absurd arguments. It’s important for leaders to talk to the “get-you” players, adapt their good ideas, and quell their doubts. So, the next time you make a bad decision and you have pie on your face, ask the critics, “What should I have done instead?” When they are done laughing, listen.

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