“Victory has a thousand fathers” (p. 107). What a great quote that aptly describes the reality of winning at war…and at business. Entrepreneurs don’t succeed on their own, great CEO’s don’t turn a company around alone, and leaders don’t complete a successful project without the insights and experience of those around them.

Who can forget the story of Henry Ford when he refused to build a Model T in any color other than black? The board of directors of the company had to force Ford out as CEO in order to respond to the wants of the public. Ford is arguably one of the best industrialists of the United States, yet he was so “married” to his vision of the Model T that he refused to accept advice that the public wanted more than just black. If it hadn’t been for the board, Ford Motor Company might have been a postscript in history.

When we as leaders don’t listen to the advice and objections of others, they are destined to be a postscript in the history of a company. Great leaders, in business, politics, or the military, are those that are wise enough to seek out the valued advice of others. When a team works together, the result is greater than the sum of the parts. Creative friction in the process of developing a plan can bring about a result that is better than if one person had designed it alone. But creative friction must be managed to ensure differences of opinions are focused on the ideas and not the person. And the members of the team must be mature enough to recognize a difference of opinion as just that, and not an attack on them personally. It took me awhile to become confident enough to accept a different view of what would be successful and what wouldn’t. Now that I am though, I seek out people who compliment my weaknesses. By finding someone that is good at what I am not makes us a stronger team. Too often leaders hire “cookie-cutter” versions of themselves – and we end up with cookie-cutter companies.

— Thomas, E. (2006). Sea of Thunder. New York, NY: Simon & Schuster.

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