Why do senior executives tell me they’re lying awake at night wondering why people aren’t walking in their “open door”? Obviously, they’re not interpreting this as good news. They’re responding to an intuition that they’re missing something critical or a sense that their relationships “should” be better. These senior executives tell me they would love it if people would challenge them. They tell me they know the value of this kind of conversation. But no one is darkening their door. And they’re stymied as to why. What’s missing to transform their open door policy into a practice that will accomplish their noble intention? Read On
“It’s hard for us to improve our working relationships in the heat of battle,” he declared. “And yet, we need open, passionate debate about the issues among our leadership team in order to grow.” So I asked him, “What do you do to better construct your working relationships?” This competent and self-aware senior executive soon recognized that his proverbial lunches to “get to know the other person better” and his “hallway chats” about family or football were insufficient to developing robust working relationships with and among his leadership team. Read On
“I don’t trust her anymore, and I won’t work with her,” I heard him declare to his leadership team. The senior executive I was coaching firmly believed he was well within his rights to publicly discount and disparage his colleague—but he privately confessed to me his frustration at not being able to have a conversation with her directly. After I shared the following three rarely talked about constructs with him, he saw a way to easily transform his interpersonal conflict into an effective working relationship.
“I don’t have any conflicts…. I get along with everybody!” This was the proud response of a participant in one of my recent Coach Dialogues about utilizing conflict. Their response signalled to me not that everything was fine, but that there were missing conversations—conversations that represent missed opportunities for growth and innovation. Sadly, this is a far too frequent norm in organizational relationships. People avoid conversations where conflict naturally and necessarily exists for the sake of “getting along”.
What is the best way to improve our effectiveness, creativity, and performance? Align our commitments. Yet we often stop thinking about alignment after we’ve sorted out our expectations and roles. We miss a critical step in the alignment framework: aligning our commitments.