Happy New Year to you! I wish you an amazing 2017. Some people make a list of resolutions at the beginning of every new year. Whether you make a list or not, starting the new year is a good time to reflect.
Last year I saw a lot of conforming and pleasing others; lots of consensus. To transform one must step out of their comfort zone, that includes organizations. This rarely happens, a very powerful reason is the need to please others via consensus: the need for consensus is a common innovation challenge inside organizations.
This a particular challenge to for all non-innovators. Fitting in, fear of rejection, is built into human nature. Some of us are immune to fear, but most are not. When it comes to innovation, challenging the status quo is where it starts.
I’m a big fan of Aesop’s Fables, the wisdom embedded in the short stories is refreshing. For example, as it relates to consensus, The man, the boy and the donkey fable teaches us that we’ll please none by trying to please all:
Reject the need to please everyone and you’ll open the door to transformation
Aesop knows what he’s talking about. The Man in the story is most everyone on a daily basis; they just don’t know it. Aiming to please everyone is an innovation killer. You kill consensus by having a strong point of view. Great leaders don’t try to please everyone. Great leaders inspire by provoking and polarizing. Mediocre leaders, on the other hand, are afraid of rejection.
The real challenge of leadership is changing before you have to; pleasing everybody is an obstacle to that.
Bottom line: Pleasing everybody is the safest path to mediocrity.
Also published on Medium.