BY RICK NELSON, TAG CO-FOUNDER AND CHAIRMAN OF LAUNCH CONSULTING
That’s why I’m writing a new series on the Power of 3, and how you can incorporate it to fuel success in all elements of your business.
I’m a big believer that a good ol’ conference room fight is a good thing.
I’m not talking about a knock-down, drag-out wrestling match—though sometimes it feels like one. I mean tough business decisions with multiple viable options that, for whatever reason, bring out people’s passions. I’ve found a lot of great things pour out onto the conference room table when people are willing to put themselves on the line.
For disagreement to be productive, though, you need three key elements.
- One is trust. To be vulnerable with colleagues requires mutual respect and the understanding that whatever your view on a particular issue may be, it won’t affect your business relationship.
- Another is conviction. If you can’t or won’t back up your ideas, who will?
- And the third is courage—specifically, to change your point of view.
In addition to these key elements, I highly recommend making decisions in a group of three people. Why? Here are three reasons:
Power of 3
1. A decision will be made.
Three voices create a forcing function. Two people can tend to either create an echo chamber or be constantly at odds, but it’s rare to find three unique, opposing views. A decision is inevitable. Two people will roll together, and if you’re the dissenter, you’ll be outvoted…or, alternatively, you can take the opportunity to change your mind.
Think about it: presumably you’ve chosen these two people to grapple with tough calls because you trust and respect what they bring to the table. They’re sharing their life experiences, and those experiences may or may not line up with yours—but they inform a perspective that’s just as valuable as yours. Over the years, I’ve been surprised at how willing I am to come around on difficult decisions thanks to my partners’ positions.
Now, don’t get me wrong. Your job isn’t to just concede.
The owner of their truth has a responsibility to contribute at the highest level, with an open mind.
You don’t change your personal truth on a whim; it has to come with a fight. Uphold your side and see where it falls. Sometimes you get the win. Other times, you get a chance to say: “I trust you. I hear you. I’m not aligned, but I’m not as opposed as I once was, and if you say we’re going that way, I trust you.”
2. You aren’t alone in difficult decisions.
Anyone who runs a business knows that sometimes, a problem just doesn’t have the kind of solution you want. It’s excruciating when a choice you have to make will negatively impact the people who work for you. In those circumstances, it’s vital to have someone to tackle that choice with you.
Engaging with two other people to solve a tough issue brings a measure of accountability, since you have three brains to examine every angle of the decision.
It also brings a measure of comfort. Knowing that the three of you have thoroughly discussed the options, knowing that you’ve opened yourself to multiple viewpoints and worked through emotions as a group, allows you to deliver hard news with grace, authority, and compassion. Ultimately, there’s safety in a collective verdict.
3. Your mindset will grow and mature.
There’s a hierarchy when it comes to changing your truth: Opinion, Mindset, Belief, and Value. Opinions are the easiest to modify, while a shift in fundamental values takes the most effort.
The influence of your circle of three is priceless here; the trust, conviction, and courage you committed to creates a space for your partners to give you candid feedback, work with you, and help you develop into a better leader—whether it’s a matter of mindset, or the opportunity to make a much greater change.
Here’s a personal example. I grew up in a blue-collar family that taught me a fundamental value of self-determination—a core credo that people need to earn everything they get. So when I was newer to leadership and an employee would come to me asking for X, my belief system would cause me an instant, and negative, gut reaction. Over the years, I’ve had the opportunity to see what’s possible from employees—what people are capable of delivering and how they can build equity with methods other than the initial grunt work.
Thanks to those lessons and the influence from my two partners, I no longer take the stance that you’ve got to work in the trenches before you can move up. People can move the business further, faster, without digging themselves out of a hole. The Power of 3 has helped me evolve my thinking.
The Power of 3
Three key factors to decision-making. Three people working together. Three reasons why this method works. Again and again throughout my leadership experience, the number 3 has proven itself a magic number for productivity and progress. Please check out the rest of my series on the Power of 3, and how you can incorporate it to fuel success in all elements of your business.
More importantly, let’s hear about your circle of three. When you have to make tough decisions in business or your personal life, which two people do you go to? What surprising mindset change have you made as a result of their influence? I’d love to hear your story in the comments, or send me a note at firstname.lastname@example.org.