Creative Leadership

Leaders: Your Team Isn’t a Family so Stop Treating it Like One

I worked with a creative team recently who to my surprise, brag that they never disagree and certainly never fight. They made a big deal about being a family. My response? This isn’t a creative team, it’s a dictatorship. If your team never disagrees then there’s a reason, and it’s probably fear. If creative people can’t question things, then they probably won’t accomplish much.

Plus, creativity is about conflict. If your team isn’t disagreeing and occasionally having a good fight, then you’re not pushing the boundaries, not trying new things, and not doing anything original.

Conflict can be healthy, but it must be guided by a strong leader. A leader who will give the team space to come up with new ideas – even if that means disagreement and sometimes conflict.

Holding back dangerous new ideas is a fast track to mediocrity.

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  1. Phil, I agree that good teams have disagreements and conflict that is resolved in healthy ways. Isn’t this true of families too? It certainly was in the family I grew up in and is with my wife and 3 children. 🙂

  2. The “we are a family” mindset in the business climate is a big pet peave of mine. As a business coach that works with small business and some organizations in large companies, I cringe when I hear things like we are a family here. The dynamics of business and family are different. You cannot fire a family member…even though some people may wish they could. A business team must bring on new people and move people out to accomplish their goals.

    I think the word we should begin using is honor. We treat people with honor. That means we lift them up, encourage them and also disagree and correct when needed.

    1. Honor. Right on! Well said.

      Pastor Kelly Goins had a great message on this very thing at a2 church about three weeks ago.

  3. This is great. Families fight (ever watch Bonanza, Sons of Katie Elder).

    Besides not everything, not every organization is or even should be a family. How trite is “We treat you like family.”

    What if you don’t like your family?

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