Challenging with Confidence

We all find ourselves in situations where we need to challenge an assumption or an assertion that we believe is going to lead to the wrong decision. In conflict-avoidant cultures it can be extremely difficult to challenge effectively: a challenge that is perceived as aggressive or rude might backfire. Yet it’s important for us all to learn how to challenge effectively or we might watch our pet projects go off the rails or a serious miscalculation in judgement lead to poor performance.

When you feel yourself holding back from the impulse to challenge, a few questions you might ask yoruself include:

  • Whose interests are you protecting when you feel something isn’t right but you don’t say it?
  • What kind of relationship are you creating with your colleagues & teammates if you hold back on offering a challenge that you could? Does this create a relationship of equal partners or an imbalance of power?
  • What’s the biggest risk of challenging? What’s the biggest risk of not challenging?

How is your team set up to handle challenges? Have you got an explicit agreement in place about when and how to challenge ideas? Perhaps your work goes through a review process where challenge is built into the workflow; perhaps you have set agreements at the start of every meeting to determine when and how to bring challenge into the space.

Challenge is an essential part of helping push towards quality, whether that’s in personal growth or in creating a better project. As in last month’s blog, we’ll have the most effective impact through challenge that’s presented in an environment of psychological safety, and taking a mutually considered approach to how

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