How to Navigate Conflict Between Managers and Leaders

People who work together end up working against each other when goals compete and agendas collide.

The goals of leadership and the challenges of management create healthy friction.

Unresolved friction eventually turns to resentment and resistance.

Management frustrations:

  1. Moving targets and shifting expectations.
  2. System and process changes.
  3. Disconnected leadership.
  4. Feeling misunderstood, under-appreciated, and not heard.

Leadership frustrations:

  1. Knee-jerk resistance to change.
  2. Navigating short-term profits and long-term gains.
  3. Juggling conflicting agendas.
  4. Feeling misunderstood, under-appreciated, and not heard.

How to navigate conflict between managers and leaders:

#1. Celebrate the value of hard work. Success is always about facing difficult challenges.

Ease is boring.

No one drifts into the harbor of fulfillment.

Tip: Workhorses collapse without rest.

#2. Commit to help each other win without becoming sacrificial lambs.

#3. Honor the value of relationship building.

You don’t have to sacrifice relationships on the altar of delivering great results.

Strong relationships produce great results.

Create systems and processes that foster communication and collaboration.

  1. How and when will people talk about shared metrics and assessments?
  2. How will you respond to success, short-fall, or failure?

#4. Get in each other’s world.

Isolation and disconnection cause frustration and resistance.

Managers with dirty hands resent leaders with clean hands.

#5. Develop and define shared language.

Apart from shared language, teams talk past each other. Frustration goes up. Results go down.

Define success. Beware of winning at the expense of others. Success at the expense others on your team is failure. If everyone doesn’t win, in the end, no one wins.

  1. What does winning on a day-to-day basis look like?
  2. What does winning in the middle and long-term look like?

#6. Design shared metrics and assessments.

  1. How will we know we’re winning?
  2. What behaviors do we expect from each other?

#7. Define, develop and honor kind candor, courageous vulnerability, and forward-facing curiosity.

What makes strong relationships between management and leadership difficult?

How might leaders and managers build strong relationships with each other?