I got some interesting responses from my last post on handling irritants. It led me to think more about the inevitable fights we have on leadership teams.

We shouldn’t be surprised when leadership teams experience conflict. Whenever there are important issues and people with strong opinions, there will be fights. As Peter Drucker once said, “Not to have an opinion after having experience would argue for an unobservant eye and a sluggish mind.” Strategic discussions, policy deliberations, and even everyday operational trade-offs will often prompt friction and, shall we say, the open exchange of ideas.

The question is, what kind of fights does your leadership team have?

A recent HBR article on the topic got my juices going on this. And I humbly offer my simple grid to help prompt some thought on the conflicts you have in your leadership team. (Yes, this model works for domestic relationships too, but that’s my marriage therapist-wife’s department.)


(Click on the thumbnail to see a larger view!)

The message of the model is simple – we’re trying to manage two variables when picking fights: what we fight about and how we conduct ourselves before, during, and after the fight. If we can fight constructively about substantive things more often than not, we won’t do the things that leadership teams typically do – and we’ll waste less time, focus more energy on important things (like serving customers!), and maybe even enjoy work more.

So here’s the question: In your leadership team’s last planning cycle, how much time and energy was spent in each of these quadrants? What additional business value could you create next time by simply pushing more time and energy up and to the right? What can you personally do to influence that shift?

Worth pondering…