Leadership...through the eyes of a coach...Alan Booth

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

CEO'S FEAR OF CONFLICT

Six of my current clients - CEOs down to Managing Directors - all present with avoidance of direct communication, especially when it comes to outlining "expectations" for each of their staff members.

When I get them to be more comfortable with that, the next challenge is having them provide feedback on the progress being made.

I am learning that top executives avoid these two leadership tasks because of fear of conflict. But most of the time the fear is unfounded as people really want to know what is expected of them and get feedback on how they are doing!

Yesterday I got Bob CEO together to talk about expectations with Joe Operations. A great dance occurred all around the two areas Bob wanted Joe to achieve in his management role. In the debrief Bob related how he "felt the temperature rising" and pointed out how this conversation led Joe to practically explode with defensiveness, "So you think I am a problem in this organization?"

What Bob needs to understand (in our next meeting) is that the trust of his team is eroded because of not being direct around expectations of each player on his staff. It's like the proverbial elephant in the room and Joe reacted accordingly!

Interesting paradox is noted: CEO avoids potential conflict but in so doing conflict is growing because of that avoidance. All managers can benefit from experiencing conflict because putting it on the table creates the right conversation that needs to occur...and creates the accountability for each party to step up to achieve expectations!
 
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