"The real hell of life is everyone has his reasons."
- Jean Renoir
The Premier of Western Australia Mr Colin Barnett has not supported a push to remove one of his party members who continues to criticise his government, including calling for Mr Barnett to resign.
Another example of a leader who is on top of his game.
Allowing a critic to remain within the ranks is the sign of a confident leader. And not because of her ego blinding her to the criticism.
The good leader knows that there is wisdom in testing arguments and positions inside the tent before they are released into the wild.
As Dr Tim McDonald says: 'Private honesty. Public loyalty.'
Mr Barnett's accommodation of a dissenting view is also his compliment to the community he serves. He assumes of us what he is demonstrating himself: the maturity to accept that difference is not to be feared.
Mr Barnett is not afraid that the voting public may assume that his party's internal dissent calls into question the ability of his government to run our hospitals and schools and keep our streets safe.
This is what leaders do. They create a space that invites us in to see the version of ourselves that we want to become. 'See?' Mr Barnett says to us. 'I can run an entire State amidst criticism from one of my own. I'm not fleeing. I'm not fighting. I'm smiling. Try it in your own family, workplace, community.'
Very, very few people or organisations can do this. Basically, we don't know how. We don't have the skills. We haven't practised accommodating dissonance. We actively discourage dissent - often quashing it under cover of a breach of 'values' or 'code of conduct'. We drive the our critics to the fringes - until they have to scream so loudly that any merit in their shouted message is dismissed with labels such as 'vexatious'.
If you want to test the maturity and confidence of an organisation or person - say 'complaint'.
Mature people and organisations will seek out dissenters to join their decision making process to kick the tyres.
If they can't find such a critic, they will appoint one. The 'devil's advocate' was someone appointed by the Catholic Church to argue against the canonisation of a person into sainthood.
The mature organisation knows that a dissenter is one of the ways to avoid the trap of groupthink.
The critic - whether internal or external - demands that we explain ourselves - rather than just declare, or even be satisfied by giving reasons for a decision.
A recent study showed that people who were asked to give reasons for an opinion remained convinced of its rightness. While other people who were asked to give a step by step explanation of how they arrived at their opinion were more likely to recognise an error in their thinking and start reviewing their assumptions.
(Herein lies the value of the Five Steps to a Good Decision.)
Therein also lies both the solution and the problem.
Better to cling on to the flawed certainty of our understanding of the world than to expose ourselves to the panic of finding out that we've been wrong.
It's a rare person who can accommodate the distraction in time and energy of a critic.
Which is why we need leaders like Mr Barnett who have the confidence to show us that whether we label it criticism, dissent, disloyalty, or even treason, it's just information.
Another opportunity for us to measure how we're going with our Widget.
Good leaders are rare.