Healthy Debate – is a great tool especially for strategy planning and leadership teams yet it is one seldom used, or at least seldom used effectively. Healthy debate should work to engage everyone on the team in the discussion. Healthy debate does involve conflict. However, in healthy debate, the conflict always remains on differing points of interest and not on personalities. The scenario played out in most organizations, large and small, is the conflict quickly turns to personalities. This is detrimental to a healthy outcome. Therefore, it cannot be healthy debate.
Healthy debate is conflicting points not personalities. In our story in Turnaround Journey (as in most scenarios) there are differing points of interest. Each of which could be validly supported. For healthy debate to occur the discussion should be led in such a way that the team comes to a ‘what is best for our situation’ answer and substantiates that answer with factual information. It is not based on any personalities or ministry preferences. In chapter seven of Turnaround Journey, Greg (the coach) had actually prepared the team for healthy debate for a full half hour prior to this decision making discussion. Greg had the team divide in pairs to share their ideas. Then he had them present the other person’s idea, not their own. What was he doing? He was allowing them to build a defense for the other person’s idea, not the person. Everyone’s idea was heard and accepted. But by being voiced by a second person, it brought a broader understanding and acceptance for each idea.
There are varying ways to build healthy debate into your team meetings. The key is to keep personalities out of the discussion – as much as possible. Make no mistake people’s personalities will come out as they share their ideas and thoughts. Otherwise there would not be passion for any particular idea. What we mean by keeping the personalities out is not to allow differing personalities to close off our open-mindedness. Healthy debate should not leave anyone feeling left out or belittled for sharing his/her opinion. As a leader it may be necessary from time to time to remind the team members to look beyond the person voicing the idea, and look at the premise of the idea. It is not the personality but the premise that will be implemented.
With some teams it may take time to build in true healthy debate, especially where people have not had the opportunity to openly express their ideas and understanding in the past. When first introduced to the idea some may feel insecure due to past experiences on your team or previous work, school teams, or even at home. In the church people do not want to offend another and do not want to feel offended or belittled. Therefore some may at first feel a little intimidated by the thought of healthy debate. This is where good strategic, encouraging leadership is very valuable to building your team members confidence that each person’s ideas and thoughts on every situation is vital to the team and the organizations future.
Seek out ways to implement and lead your team(s) in healthy debate.
To order a pre-release copy of Turnaround Journey visit soncare.net for this and 33 more leadership tips as well as a prescription for effective strategic planning and implementation for your church or organization.