I will often ask a client to tell me the names of their antagonists. The list is usually short. Only a few people are the hole-pokers, wearing devil advocate badges. Just saying their names aloud creates awareness of whom they are actually working for – and it is not always the boss. It is not uncommon for the majority of a leader’s audience to be neutral or supportive. Thus the question, what does the majority need?
So often leaders spend a greater percentage of their time on a small percentage of their people. That small percentage rarely gets a leader out of bed every day. What would it look and feel like if the tables turned? What if the majority of your neutral and quiet supporters got at least 80% of your time and attention? What if the agenda is created for them?
Good preparation, communication, and follow through are always useful leadership competencies when they serve the majority. There will be times when you cannot avoid the effort. Yet, I believe at least 50% of the time, an antagonist is driving the agenda and the leaders involved may not notice or name the phenomenon.
Every leader needs someone who will ask the hard questions and ensure details are covered. Those individuals serve the work well. However, there is a difference between allowing those types of questions to emerge versus letting them set the agenda. In theory, an unaddressed antagonist always wins.
Who drives your agenda? How do you know?