There are few things more essential to success than your team’s abilities.

Too many of us obsess over it. We pay coaches to guide us through unconventional approaches and spend tens of thousands of dollars screening for the “right” candidate to bring into the team.

And I’m not arguing against that, but I’d like to offer a different perspective.

I just finished the fantastic book, Team of Rivals by Doris Kearns Goodwin about Abraham Lincoln’s selection of cabinet officials before and throughout the US Civil War.

Calling these people selected for his inner council “rivals’ is a bit of an understatement. Many of them had belittled him publicly; they had cut him from essential business dealings, had used him to achieve their goals, and much more.

But Lincoln rose above his grievances with them to choose the best for the nation – a nation soon to be more divided (literally).

It worked. These cabinet members were vital pieces of the massive puzzle needed to get the country back together through their inherent skills and ability to challenge Lincoln when necessary.

Now think of how YOU approach team development. Too many of us, myself included, tend to do our best to surround ourselves with similar people. Similar in beliefs, backgrounds, and more.

And that is nothing more than a recipe for disaster. 

For the record, I’m not just talking about diversity and inclusion efforts for corporations. Both are vital for future success. 

I mean taking pains to ensure you have people within your teams who will actively disagree with you. 

Alignment to the mission and organizational strategy is necessary, not sycophantic support. But, hereto lies a problem. 

According to the recent Gallup report on the State of the American Workplace, “one-third of those (US) employees are what Gallup calls engaged at work. They love their jobs and make their organization and America better every day. At the other end, 16% of employees are actively disengaged — they are miserable in the workplace and destroy what the most engaged employees build. The remaining 51% of employees are not engaged — they’re just there.” (Gallup, State of the American Workplace 2017)

Leadership isn’t about leading people who agree with your every action. Leadership, very simply, is about achieving organizational objectives and goals. 

Are you seeking dissent within your teams when appropriate? Are you allowing team members to actively fight for what they believe is the best approach to a potential problem? Do you realize that not all conflict is harmful? 

If not, you probably aren’t hitting your goals. And that’s ok. The first step is admitting you have a problem. Right?

Are you looking for the best person for the role or the best person for you?