Posts tagged corner office rules
Embracing Constructive Conflict

In my latest book, Corner Office Rules: The 10 Realities of Executive Life, I stress the importance of constructive conflict and why it is necessary for companies to embrace. Within any organization, big or small, there is sure to be disagreements along the way. Often times, dissimilarities cause tension, so the obvious ploy is to avoid it all together. However, conflict is a normal part of working together as a team. It challenges the organization to find innovative solutions to new and existing problems, as well as helps employees to develop deeper thinking skills.A company that does not embrace constructive conflict will result in damaged relationships amongst its employees, colleagues, and perhaps even the boss. Moreover, a culture that eludes conflict will only hinder a team’s success, negatively impacting the company as a whole.

Good leaders understand the value of conflict, recognizing that disagreements amid the organization often leads to superior results, sharing of ideas, and individual professional growth.

The advantage of constructive conflict is that it teaches employees how to advocate for differing and opposing opinions without taking things personally. Furthermore, conflict proves beneficial to a leader’s growth in the sense that it teaches executives to differentiate between who a person is and the person’s ideas. A leader who embraces conflict will develop a strong team of people unafraid to express their opinions, ideas, and disagreements, thus giving the leader a better understanding of what team members and groups really feel, not what they think the boss wants to hear. In this type of environment, the staff then become more confident in knowing that they are able to stand up for what they believe in without fear of rejection or reprisal. Lastly, conflict helps to encourage a feedback-oriented culture, where anything can be said and conferred as long as it is done in a tasteful manner.

A culture that embraces constructive conflict is a safe place where questioning is abided from all members of the organization, no matter the position or rank. When employees feel like they can express themselves freely without being shunned or eschewed by the executive, they are more likely to discuss and accept truths, even when they may be difficult to hear. However, keep in mind that as the leader, you must be able to take control of these conversations without avoiding them. Your team is counting on you to be the example. Constructive conflict requires a balance between respect for individuals and respect for their ideas. Without conflict, there can be no resolution.

The Lonely Executive

“It’s lonely at the top,” a reoccurring theme for most executives making their way up the ranks. Just as, the higher you rise, the narrower the environment becomes; and while challenges arise at every level in an organization, it is at the executive level that isolation can become problematic.

Not only is an executive privy to highly confidential information, but once you have reached leadership status, the future of the organization as well as its overall success rests heavily upon your shoulders. With that in mind, it is of utmost importance that as an executive leader, you maintain discretion at all times, which limits the executive to only a select few of confidants whom they can discuss certain business matters with. Additionally, to prevent the perception of favoritism or unfairness, leaders will also try their best at avoiding close relationships with particular staff members. Many executives are reluctant to let others come too close for fear that their imperfections may be revealed or that they may appear weak or incompetent as well. While we all know that no one person is perfect, as a leader, people will still hold you to unrealistic standards and consequently a sense of isolation soon occurs.

As isolation increases, having a support system will prove advantageous to the executive’s ability to lead successfully.  As noted in my book, ‘Corner Office Rules,’ an executive leader can’t lead effectively without being surrounded by peoplenot just any people but the right people.  At some point, every leader needs an outlet to vent frustrations, share concerns, express fears, and admit doubts.

While it is essential to have an internal support system within the organization, it is on the other hand equally as important to have just as much support outside of the company also. The suggestions that follow below prove beneficial for an executive seeking an outlet away from the establishment:

Serve on a Board:  Board of Directors are typically made up of other seasoned, high-level executive leaders who can provide a safe haven to discuss matters that you may not be willing or able to share with someone from your organization.

Associations: Take advantage of networking and development opportunities found in professional and industry associations.

Community: Develop relationships with key influential individuals in the communities who can give you access to their networks and, in some cases, help you drive your business goals.

In summary, the title executive in itself inevitably forces many leaders into seclusion, but the best way to avoid isolation as an executive leader is to actively seek out and identify opportunities for engagement.