I want to talk about leadership friction.
I want to talk about leadership friction. Transcribed
You know friction like when we rub our hands together on a cold day gives us warmth, but when you rub those same hands against sandpaper … goes beyond warmth to something destructive. So too much friction, too much banging up against each other as leaders trying to get something done causes some problems wherever we work. I see three areas in which leadership friction develops and I’d like to address those.
- The first is conflicting personalities and we all know we have different personalities and those tend to bump up against one another, the proverbial abrasive personality the person that just seems to “rob us the wrong way” a kind of interesting expression. They kinda get too much into our space or they just seem to push too hard or their words are more toxic than supportive and instead of just challenging us they kinda get abusive with language or demeaning with language. These can be abrasive personalities and that certainly can rub up against other leaders saying, “Whoa, you know, where you coming off here?”
- Sometimes it’s the direct person, the person who’s eager to simply communicate faxed and data or to tell you what to do with their supervisor. “Bob make three sales calls by three o’clock and report back to me.” “Susan, can you put that over there?” “Steve, I need to set up two meetings.” They never smile, they never crack a joke, they are just always direct and they don’t see this as abrasive but constant just pure direct can feel like a little bit of a poke over and over and over and begin to clash with other maybe warmer personalities in the leadership circle.
- Then there’s the condescending or elitist type person, again may not recognize it fully. They tend to look down on us so they tend to feel superior because of the performance or socioeconomic background, maybe there’s racial stuff going on. The point is they kind of look down there nose a little bit and that kind of personality robs up against those of us to don’t like that and we may perceive that that’s some sort of a one-upsmanship going on.
I also see some things that cause friction around contrasting styles of leadership. Bill Hybels did some good work in Courageous Leadership, a book he wrote about a decade ago to focus on ten kinds of leadership styles that he observes. And it’s important to look at those, matter of fact we’ve posted as you can see them on the site.
You have people for example with visionary styles or entrepreneurial or re-engineering styles go-getter start-up take the hill those kinds of styles, bumping up against people that are bridge-building, team building, collaborative, encouraging, motivational styles. So different styles of leaders can bump up against one another by virtue of we just lead differently. Now, we might get the same result done but we go about different ways but our styles can cause a little friction.
A third area is just competing visions in other words we see things differently. Get a group of leaders together in a circle and some may report to others or whatever but when you get those leaders in a circle they all have a sense of vision, there are all leaders, and they see a future that can happen and it may not be the same. One way to help with that a little bit I say is being together is seeing together. There is something about working on vision collaboratively that really helps that process and create more unity around the vision verses we each individually come with our own separate view of reality and then compete with one another to see whose vision wins.
So these are areas I see of friction or tension developing. How you address it, it’s pretty simple but it takes work and it’s simply saying let’s look at the strengths of each of these. What are the strengths that my vision brings? What are the strengths I bring in my style of leadership? What are the strengths I bring in my personality? And what do each of you bring? Focus on strengths, not the differences that kind of rub us a bit but let’s say okay the driver what’s good about that personality? The leadership style that’s team building what’s a strength we can leverage to get the job done from your leadership because your that kind of leader?
So work on your strengths, leverage those together, name the realities of the tension that you see and the friction that may be there and then get on the strengths side and see if that helps you lead better as a group of leaders.
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