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In a guest post on Spin Sucks a few weeks ago, Laura Petrolino wrote about vision, goals, and gold medals.

In it, she talked about how your vision dictates your goals dictates your ability to win.

She listed four things every leader should do to help increase success, including allow imperfection and to study history.

But the one that has stuck with me since I read the post was, “Have a devil’s advocate.”

She says:

We all know about “yes” men, but do you have “no” men? This is someone, or a group of people, you can trust to help you step out of your own head, and clearly examine the situation objectively. These are people who will not only tell you where weak spots might be, but help you actively see them on your own by being able to clearly communicate in a way that resonates.

This is advice every leadership book and coach in the world gives.

  • Don’t hire people who are going to tell you what you want to hear.
  • Hire people who are smarter than you.
  • Create a team of people who are going to push back and play devil’s advocate.

Having a Devil’s Advocate is Hard

I have taken this advice. In fact, my entire team is made up of devil’s advocates. And, let me tell you, it’s hard.

H-A-R-D!

When you start a business from the ground up, put all of your sweat, tears, heart, and money into it, and have your entire life wrapped into it, it’s really hard to hear your baby is ugly.

Because that is exactly what a devil’s advocate does. They tell you your baby is ugly…and then help you figure out how to make it pretty.

You waffle between wondering why things have to change when it’s been working great all along and wondering why you didn’t make the suggested changes (or think of them yourself) a zillion years ago.

Sometimes a devil’s advocate wants to make change for change sake and sometimes they want to make change because it’s the right thing to do.

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About Gini Dietrich

Gini Dietrich is the founder and CEO of Arment Dietrich, an integrated marketing communications firm. She is the author of Spin Sucks, co-author of Marketing in the Round, and co-host of Inside PR. She also is the lead blogger at Spin Sucks and is the founder of Spin Sucks Pro.