leadership incorporated blog

September 13, 2010

Inspired To Succeed: 5 Things You Can Do To Stop Infighting, Backstabbing, Bickering and Obstructionism

Imagine you are on the leadership team of a great organization.

Perhaps that organization is approaching major change (and really, what organization isn’t tackling change now?!) It could be the exit of a strong leader, a change in the structure or ownership of the organization, a shift in the business model. At first it looks like everyone is going to rise to the occasion, but then politics threaten to tear the organization apart.

This isn’t hypothetical. It happens to many organizations each year. And although major change creates the conditions that are ripe for politics — bickering, backstabbing and obstructionism can threaten the productivity, and  the viability, of any organization.

Have you ever been in this kind of situation? What did you do? Trying to change what’s become an embedded culture of politics can seem impossible. Yet, if you’re in a position of influence, you can refocus the team for success.

Here are 5 strong requests you can make to help get a self-destructing organization back on track.

Request #1: Take personal feelings out of it. Get everyone, including yourself, to look at where you may have a personal agenda or personal hurt feelings and have the maturity to put those aside.

Request #2: Look at the inevitable outcomes if you continue on this path. It’s not hard to project what will happen if infighting and politics continue. But people lose sight in the emotion of the moment. Walking through the natural progression of the path you are on can be an excellent wake-up call.

Request #3: Reconnect with what’s at stake. What is the purpose of this organization? What will be gained if it fulfills? What will be lost if it doesn’t?

Request #4:  Remember, amend and agree to the values of the organization. What does this organization stand for? Do we need to add or change any values that will help us to stay on track? Which behaviors and principles will support our success? And which will not?

Request #5: Anyone, including yourself, who can’t put the interests of the organization ahead of your own, needs to be confronted (as kindly as possible) and agree to either correct the situation or step down.

Have the courage to ask this of the leadership team and if the people are mature and honest enough you may turn it all around, refocus, and breathe new life into the mission.

Finally — and really first — if you ‘re a leader in an organization that you care about, no matter how old or healthy you are, make a succession plan. If you don’t know experts who can help you with this, get in touch. I know some great knowledgeable people to direct you to.

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