By Monica Staco, first-year student
At the Wright Graduate University, we study topics ranging from psychology to neuroscience to human behavior–most importantly, we study our own behavior. As part of our Performative Learning curriculum, each week we have a new assignment to try out new behaviors and challenge our beliefs about ourselves and the world. The goal of these assignments is to increase our leadership and ability to have influence in a variety of situations.
Change Your Habits to Increase Your Power
This week our Performative Learning assignment was to notice and express our disagreements and dislikes. Rather than disagreeing with people just to pick a fight, “the goal is to use dislikes and disagreements to lead and influence in a direction… This is responsible use of power.”1
Expressing what we dislike and disagree with is a powerful leadership skill.
In my last board meeting, I experimented with my leadership skills by suggesting a new idea to the group. I risked getting rejected, but my personal power, my influence over others, and my leadership skills are enhanced when I am able to point out what I don’t like and what doesn’t seem to be working.
Regardless of how independent-minded and steadfast we may think we are, we are all tempted at times to align ourselves with a group. We may worry that if we voice an unpopular viewpoint others will doubt our intelligence, taste, or competence.2
Become a Leader by Disagreeing
I disagreed with a colleague this week when we were preparing a webinar together. When she asked me to make some changes to the presentation, I told her I disagreed with her because they made the message more confusing. I was scared of disagreeing with her because she intimidates me, and after expressing my opinion I was excited to contribute.
As Margaret Heffernan stated, the best collaboration is with “thinking partners who aren’t echo chambers.”3 Instead of staying quiet and letting her take charge of everything, I collaborated and offered a new perspective. The moment that I spoke up, I stopped being a follower and became a leader.
Increase Your Influence
The more I share with others what I dislike and disagree with, the more I realize that I have the power to directly influence every situation I’m in and develop my leadership skills. As Dr. Judith Wright writes, “You will discover that when you disagree directly, clearly and responsibly, you can actually be a positive influence in the direction you desire.”4 And that’s what I’m doing—stretching myself to do something a bit bolder, a bit riskier, and a bit more powerful every day.
 Sanden, Lisa. “Discover the Power of Disagreements and Dislikes.” Nourishment and Self Care Transformational Lab Lesson. March, 2015.
 Brafman, Ori, and Rom Brafman. Sway: The Irresistible Pull of Irrational Behavior. New York: Doubleday, 2008.
 “Margaret Heffernan: Dare to Disagree.” TED Talks. ted.com. http://www.ted.com/talks/margaret_heffernan_dare_to_disagree.html.
 Wright, Judith, “Discover the Power of Disagreements and Dislikes” Year of Transformation Lesson, Personal Power Quarter 2015.
Monica Staco, a first year WGU student, is a consumer research and strategy professional. Her success in the past 12 years has been to consistently deliver evidence-based and results-focused insight that informs and drives strategic action for her clients. She’s a well-travelled trend-finder who leads with curiosity and vision, using both long and short lenses to craft tactics for her people, clients and the business. Her intuitive awareness of systems and team dynamics is a strong differentiator that informs her unique contribution to any project. Monica is fluent in French and Haitian Creole.