Leaders Letter Newsletter Leadership

Leaders Letter 103 – The Fight Behind Closed Doors

Dear Leaders, this week I want to introduce you to a topic many “leaders” struggle to recognise or talk about, the fight behind closed doors and the impact it has. 

When you work with leadership teams, you encounter the same reactions:
(1) resistance,
(2) some admitting there are core issues, others denying any sign of issues
(3) you encounter the historic status games and
(4) baked in politics that you have to navigate quickly and as expertly as you can.

I call this the fight behind closed doors. 

These dynamics are complicated, you are often the person who has to get into the middle of the psychological fights, you have to force collaboration between those who are often competing and when required you have to be the adult (and leader in that space) and force these colleagues to hash it out. 

I have been in workshops where you can cut the tension with a knife, you have to force change the atmosphere with working sessions and have had to call out this bad behaviour to reduce this from recurring its ugly head again. 

The trick is to know some people either need to have a fight behind closed doors or just be adults and agree to disagree.  

The worst “execs” are those who unload a lot of the fight onto their team and actually reveal much of the battles from behind closed doors to their team and influence the team’s behaviour. 

Very often this actually negatively impacts their view of you and the leadership team. If the department leader moves on, these biases are often carried through from those internally promoted.   

The Unspoken Truth 

I say this often, a lot of department leads hate the senior leadership meetings, hate attending and hate being on the SMT’s and ELT’s.
These are battles, you waste a lot of emotional energy, these can feel like they steal away your time, these battles can get mentally bloody and leave scaring, and you spend more time defending your time, your team’s output and delivery than proactively working to improve the company. 

On many occasions department leads are not prepared and rarely trained for what it takes to navigate and operate in leadership meetings and are often misdirecting their energy away from getting work done or being an actual leader within the business. 

Many people do not like confrontation, many dislike conflict and often will actively choose not to take part. 

This is understandable but often this is hurting you and your business. 

  • Is it time for an official referee? – Yes 
  • Is it time to put your management subculture first? – Yes 
  • Is it time you revisit and agree on your leadership principles? – Yes  
  • Is it time to take face known issues between “leads” within your business? – Yes 
  • Is it time to remove the battle in the boardroom/zoom room? – Yes 

Ensuring some personality types need internal competition and battles is key to good management, ensuring it does not spill over and become a larger theme is essential. 

The fight behind closed doors happens in almost every business, numerous times a week, it is how you manage this as a business leader and how you attempt to address these outstanding issues to truly move the business forward. 

This week concentrate on taking the time to review how these fight behind closed doors are taking place, the impact it is having and whether some leaders need to step up or step out. 

Have a great week and remember conflict is a disagreement, a temporary clash (can be positive), and combat is an ongoing fight or battle (often negative). 

Danny Denhard

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