Be the Devil’s Advocate in Your Business

Be the Devil’s Advocate in Your Business

Passion and vision are two characteristics that make a good leader, but when not tempered by humility, any vision a leader has will ultimately fail at the hands of those feeling they are being pushed along a path they either don’t agree with, or aren’t comfortable with yet.

Partner, Global Head of Family Business

KPMG in France


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Be the Devil’s Advocate

Passion with mindfulness

Although it may seem unnatural, as the leader in a business, it’s when you most feel excited about a vision for your company that you must take a step back and assess that vision from every angle.

Passion for an idea can easily put up blinkers to the possible downfalls and disadvantages of the project, and if you leave those blinkers up, then it can lead to a potentially highly successful path being abandoned before it can even properly prove itself.

Not everyone might share the same vision

When embarking on a new journey within a business, no matter what the size of the venture, it’s important to always touch base with each key player in the business. Sometimes it can be easy to bulldoze along an idea with those on board by your side, and forget those not fully convinced yet. But this is dangerous, as often those are the people who need to be convinced in order for a project to be fully successful. 

These key influencers can be business partners up at the top, or those on the ground floor who will ultimately embody your vision. If they aren’t fully integrated by a determined, but humble leader, then they have the power to ruin the venture. 

Be your own Devil’s Advocate

No idea is bulletproof, there will be flaws in every vision, which can often be overlooked because of those blinkers. Often leaders get caught up in the assumptions that they make along the way to their goal of fulfilling their vision, and these assumptions can be very dangerous. 

When you have that good idea, step back and poke as many holes in it as possible. If you know you can’t, keep someone around who doesn’t get swept up in ideas and fantasies – someone who doesn’t enjoy leaping before they look. By looking at an idea objectively, it can be restructured until it’s as bulletproof as possible. 

Keep the balance

In the end, too much passion can be as destructive as too much pessimism – both could end in the stagnation of a new venture.

Leaders need to remember that as much conviction as they feel about their ideas, others probably feel just as strongly about opposing ideas. That’s why it’s important to temper vision with mindfulness. In order to get all the necessary players on board with innovation, sometimes it’s prudent to slow down and assess the vision from their eyes. By doing this, a leader can figure out exactly what to do moving forward in order to make sure everyone is able to get on board. 

By taking a step back, you can safeguard your innovation against its own pitfalls by ensuring that it has as much support behind it as possible from as many angles as possible, rather than hoping that everyone will just get on board if you push it forward.

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