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Key Idea: Solicit Honest Critiques

Hattie Bryant talks with Professor Keith Grint.  He says that good leaders are thankful for the employees who ask hard questions.  More...

Key Question:


Part of it is in the hiring decisions you make, part of it in the environment you create, and part of it is in you.

Hire and retain employees who are committed to the business, not to your personally. Listen to them, engage them, recognize their value and act on their contributions.

Most importantly, be the kind of leader you see here on Small Business School. As Dr. Grint advises, let your employees constrain you. Not the other way around. We know he’s right when he points out that each of us is flawed. So if one person makes all the decisions, some of them will certainly be the wrong decisions. But if a strong organization fosters input and participation in the decision making process, the quality of the decisions will undoubtedly improve.

Think about it

Do you have constructive dissenters or “yes men” working for you? What can you do to encourage dissent? What do you think you might learn? Does this idea frighten you?

Clip from: Leadership with Keith Grint

Truly exchanging ideas is a starting point for leadership.

The World: Meet Prof. Dr. Keith Grint.  In this episode, he explains why we are so frustrated with the leadership who dominate the headlines. He makes it clear that it is time to turn away from the selfish people and look to each other to find the heart of real leadership. 

Dr. Grint says that having a vision is certainly a starting point but that the "vision thing" has been overrated. Anybody can have a dream or a picture of how they want their world or their company to look but very few are good at putting the plans in place then taking action on those plans to turn the vision into reality.

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Said Business School, Oxford

Keith Grint, Professor of Public Leadership

Executive Education Centre
Egrove Park

44 (0)1865 422800

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Office: 44 (0)1865 422800

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Solicit Honest Critiques

DR. GRINT: The basic assumption is that all leaders are flawed. And by definition we are all flawed to some extent, therefore all leaders must be flawed, therefore, they cannot be perfect leaders. They must be imperfect. They must make mistakes. So the problem is not whether you can get a perfect leader, because you can't.

The problem is how do you stop an imperfect leader from making too many mistakes that threaten the organization?

And that's a big problem for leaders across space and time, is as they get more senior in the organization they tend to assume that they are probably the person most equipped to take the decisions in that organization, and therefore the advice that they get from other people will not be adequate. Therefore they'll take more decisions on their own, or they surround themselves with sycophants, with people who are simply yes people, as we would call them now.

Consequence of all of that is that you tend to get poorer and poorer decision making as you go up organizations unless you take the advice to heart and find somebody or a group of people who are happy to tell you when you're going wrong and you don't threaten them when they do tell you that. You don't shoot the messenger.

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