Overcoming the Distraction of Being Right

May 15, 2017 - 4 minutes read

The Approach

Any time a group of people comes together to discuss options, ideas, plans, details, or anything work-related, debate ensues. Someone has an idea and many people have opinions. If you’re fortunate, you have data or experience that helps guide the debate. You may have a designated leader overseeing the discussion and ideally, a team of people who are engaged. Each person brings their own expertise along with recommendations for the best approach.

However, sometimes planning sessions hit a snag. Challenges arise, opinions and passions flair, and suddenly the team is at a standstill.

Related: How to break through barriers as a leader

Subject Matter Experts

A subject matter expert, or SME, is someone who theoretically knows everything about their area of expertise. Not only do they know how their particular subject works within an organization or working team, but they are also the person who keeps themselves educated. This person should know their competition, how their area of expertise is different from their competitor, industry standards, and ongoing changes. Having a SME in the room means that you have the most knowledgeable person in a specific topic at your disposal.

In most cases, any time there is a room full of people working together on a project or initiative, the meeting room is probably full of subject matter experts. This is a best-case scenario when it comes to making decisions.

On the flip side, there is a challenge that comes up whenever there is a room full of people who are really good at overseeing and working on their particular subject. They know what works, they’re aware of weaknesses, and because they are so knowledgeable, often times they hold their ground, unwilling to bend the rules that they’ve worked so hard to perfect and achieve.

This point of strength is also where there is potential for breakdown.

Coming together

If you are sitting in a room full of subject matter experts and you, as a leader, notice that the group is unable to move past their opinions or own way of doing things, chances are they’re stuck on being right.

Sometimes it’s easy to get caught in being right when it comes to a particular task versus what’s right for the initiative at a high-level. Then a group of people get together and are unable to make a high-level decision together, chances are they’re stuck on being right.

Paving a Path

Your job as a leader is to help pave a clear path for your team. If you notice that a team is unable to work together to move past challenges, they are probably stuck on being right. It’s up to you to step in, help the team see the big picture, and talk through compromises that may need to take place in order to accomplish the mission at hand. If you notice this happening often, it may be time to bring in a business coach to help introduce a new perspective.

Have you experienced a time when your team was stuck on being right and you stepped in to help them see the bigger picture? If so, leave a comment below and share your experience.