You may not have chosen it, but you do have to lead it.

Being a number one number two doesn’t mean you’ll always be in agreement. In fact, if you were, you wouldn’t be a great number two. It does however mean that you always need to be in alignment. When the doors are closed there should be no hesitation in expressing differences. Then, when the decision is made and the doors open, we commit to coming out together.

Kim Scott’s work on feedback and ‘Radical Candor’ encourages us to ‘Praise In Public, Criticize In Private.‘ I first heard Andy Stanley describe it as being a “raving fan publicly but an honest critic privately“. There’s about a hundred iterations of this same idea.

Here’s three ways alignment shows up:
1. Language – Our conversations and communication reflect ownership of the decision.
2. Behaviours – Our actions and priorities reflect commitment to the decision.
3. Mindset – Our attitude and disposition reflects confidence in the decision.

Amazon has this concept embedded into their leadership principles:

Have Backbone; Disagree and Commit
Leaders are obligated to respectfully challenge decisions when they disagree, even when doing so is uncomfortable or exhausting. Leaders have conviction and are tenacious. They do not compromise for the sake of social cohesion. Once a decision is determined, they commit wholly.

It’s ok to disagree. It’s ok to have your differences. We need them and we’re better for them. And then, when the decision is made, we need you to own it and lead it. That’s part of being a number one number two and it’s part of being a leader.

A question to reflect on:
“What decisions am I carrying right now that I haven’t fully owned right now?”