Why does no one challenge the CEO?

Why does no one challenge the CEO?

A few months ago, one of my business partners came to me after a team meeting and said,

“Have you ever considered why no one on the team ever challenges you in our meetings?”

I was a bit puzzled. It had never occurred to me that my team members were not challenging me in meetings. I just thought everyone was agreeing with my great ideas and insights, and that everyone was on the same page. It had never crossed my mind that my teammates might be simply agreeing with me because challenging me led to conflict.

When I took a step back, I realized that when someone had an opposing idea or questioned me, I was continuously shutting down their ideas (and them) because my listening was all about “Listening to Fix” vs “Listening to Connect”.

When I went to a meeting with my “Listening to Fix” mindset I was listening for what was wrong with other people’s ideas so I could shut down any thoughts and ideas that didn’t align with my ideas. In doing this, I made my teammates feel small, wrong and judged, and over time they started telling me what I wanted to hear to avoid confrontation with me.

What a Breakthrough for me when one of my business partners had the courage to give me some “Quality Feedback” that I could hear, “Eric, who are you being such that members of your team never challenge you in meetings?” In this moment, I leveraged one of our grounding tools called the “Power of a Pause” and asked myself, “Is this question a Threat or an Opportunity?”

It was an opportunity. When people “CARE” about being great leaders and developing a world-class organization, they provide real and sometimes critical quality feedback.

Who was I BEING in this Breakdown:

  • Closed off
  • Aggressive and confrontational
  • Scarcity mindset (when challenged, I saw it as a threat to my competency, not an opportunity for support)
  • Small thinking
  • Fearful
  • Automatic vs Intentional in my listening and speaking
  • In control and unwilling to be vulnerable

This Breakdown experience showed me a key blind spot in my leadership –  who I was being was causing a shut-down within my organization.

By making the transformation from “Listening to Fix” to “Listening to Connect”, I connected with my colleagues and saw their ideas from a place of support vs threat. Through this shift in mindset, performance and culture have improved at our company because everyone’s thoughts, ideas and comments are being honoured.

“What Does Real Support Look Like?”

  1. Listening to all ideas and concerns with the intention to connect and co-create
  2. Holding each other accountable to promises
  3. Being a sounding board to move an issue forward
  4. Willing to be challenged
  5. Allowing others to teach you
  6. Being open to feedback

“Be willing to be Vulnerable and allow others on your team to give you Quality Feedback to support you in unlocking your Greatness!”

Remember, people who give you Quality Feedback care about you and your future possibilities!


Your Leadership Learning Challenge:

Be courageous and ask a trusted colleague to give you Quality Feedback and listen to their feedback with the clear intention to use the Quality Feedback to give you access to new ways of Being a Quality Leader to your team.

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