Suggest, Don’t Criticize. And Other Leadership Principles.

I struggled to find my topic for this week but then found inspiration from our allied brand

If you’re unaware, we’ve been working for several years to create an app that assesses and monitors arm strength for baseball and softball players that then delivers a customized strength and recovery plan to their phones.

We’ve got a solid team helping us develop the project, including Ryan Crotin, a Ph.D. in biomechanics who specializes in pitching. That background alone is a solid start, but then add several years directing the performance department for a Major League Baseball team, and needless to say, he was a quick hire.

He writes on mostly baseball stuff (and you should join if you’re into that), but he turned to fighting this week. Not him fighting—instead, advocating a need for better collaboration and healthy disagreements.

To which I agree…now here are some thoughts.

Team Effort

First, I’ll give the nod to Ryan and the following policies they created for the sports performance staff with the Angles.

  1. Listening completely to what each stakeholder said, including taking written notes
  2. No disagreements for the sake of disagreeing. Arguments had to be legitimized with either data or previous experience.
  3. Avoidance of power dynamics. Your opinion didn’t carry more weight because of your title.
  4. No meetings after meetings. If you didn’t speak your mind during the meeting, you’re not allowed to grumble afterward.

Short and sweet directives that empowered the team to collaborate, and as Ryan said, “It was essential that all our ideas, either my staff’s or mine, needed to have holes poked in them.” 


The second thing that caught my eye was via an email from Elon Musk.

(Elon, if you’re reading this, Crossover is also for sale for $46 billion.)

The email didn’t go to me, but to his staff at Tesla, with three simple options for executing directives:

  1. Email me back to explain why what I said was incorrect. Sometimes, I’m just plain wrong!
  2. Request further clarification if what I said was ambiguous.
  3. Execute the directions.

I don’t know a ton about Musk’s leadership, but based on this, it should be no surprise that he’s so successful and moved to the front so quickly in multiple industries.

Again, encourage collaboration from all levels, and discourage grumblings and whining if you feel things should be done differently.

Ban Criticism

Finally, this is a policy that comes straight from the Crossover office.

I can’t say we’re doing everything right, but this is one thing that works well and that I try to take into all other avenues of my life as well.

The rule is no criticisms, only suggestions.

You’ll quickly find it’s effortless to be critical, but stepping into the arena and solving problems takes work.  This work leads to better solutions and collaborations to move the thing forward.

Through this, we’ve learned to give better feedback, and how to take feedback as a way to make things better rather than being offended.

Wrap Up

To conclude, there is conflict all around us, from work to home, to our social lives, and of course our encounters online.

This isn’t necessarily bad, only if we could handle it all better.  I think the above are some good rules to live by to support a lifetime of healthy conflict.


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