Margaret Thatcher used to ask “are they one of us." Tony Blair was accused of surrounding himself with cronies and now Michael Grove is said to be firing people who don't agree with him. But it not just politicians who want to get rid of the awkward squad, the dissenting voices. Most of us would prefer to work with like minded people, so if you get to chose your own team why wouldn't you chose people who share your vision. We all say we don't want yes men and that we appreciate those who ask the difficult, awkward questions but we don't mean it.
This is why it is a good thing that most of us don't get to pick are own team. We inherit someone else and occasionally we get to select a replacement when someone leaves. In fact that’s what management is about, managing a diverse group of people, getting them all to pull in the same direction. Naturally we want them to sign up to a shared vision, a common set of priorities and achieve a consensus about how we should go about this but to get there requires genuine debate and someone to ask the awkward questions. If they are not asked at this stage then they will be asked at a later stage when the lack of a convincing response could undermine the whole initiative.
Autocratic managers want personal loyalty which means you agree even when you don't agree. Most of us aspire to be the type of manager who is prepared to listen, prepared to accept advice and even occasionally recognise they may have got it wrong, the type of manager who views the odd awkward question as evidence of a healthy team.
Blair McPherson author of people management in a harsh financial climate published by Russell House www.blairmcpherson.co.uk