Leadership Effectiveness: Leading During Divisive Times

Leadership Effectiveness: Leading During Divisive TimesThese days, strong political divides that exist outside of work sometimes create deep conflict and tensions in the workplace. A few weeks ago, I received a call from a highly respected CEO asking for input on the divisions around political issues that could impact organizational results. It was such a significant issue for him and his team that he asked for a “just in time” coaching session to discuss the topic.

Leaders who know how to handle “hot” political discussions or who ask for help in handling them effectively will be more successful in keeping their team’s performance consistently high. Managing the depth of feelings related to our political landscape is a fairly new leadership competence. In many workplaces, the level of civility that we expected as normal in the past, which we even took for granted, is gone.

Political differences are a fact. However, the less they are acted out in the workplace, the better. Of course, candid and healthy dialogue and valuing diversity of opinion are always important. Leaders who instill candid dialogue and prevent mistrust, anger, resentment, and acting out feelings related to political differences will be the most effective.

The challenge is that most leaders do not receive sufficient conflict resolution training. It would be a rare individual who is experienced with the levels of conflict and distress that have built up during the pandemic, and who would be able to help a team successfully navigate the inherent pitfalls associated with strong divergent opinions.

At EXCN, we are consistently speaking with leaders about how to build and maintain cohesive teams.  Some suggestions include reminding the team of the core mission, values, and desired results.  Allowing people to express views in a constructive, non-personal manner is helpful.  Here is an article we want to pass along. It details what managers are up against and offers some suggestions. How Should HR Handle Political Discussions at Work?

Does your company have clarity on how to handle political discussions at work?  If not, we suggest you develop a clear policy and let your workforce know.

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