Meetings at the top of the corporate ladder are often characterised by conflicting agendas, diverse opinions and strong personalities rather than simply rational debate.
To help you navigate the complex and political arena of top-level decision-making, here are three leadership insights to help you maximise your leadership effectiveness.
1. Pay attention to personal attitudes
There are no incontestable answers when it comes to running a business and shaping its future, so having a strong opinion matters.
Business-level viewpoints often reflect personal perspectives and attitudes amongst senior executives, much to the frustration of those who prefer a methodical, transparent approach without the influence of any personal opinions or beliefs.
However, effective business decisions largely depend on the knowledge that supports opinion. To inform your outlook, you should develop a blend of business and industry perspectives, an understanding of your own organisation, and knowing how you think and behave.
It's also important to take the opinions of others on board, as they may offer insights into operational or strategic issues that you're not aware of.
2. Build relationships
A cohesive management team is critical, as employees are often influenced by executive-level relationships. It is also critical to manage discord and conflict constructively.
Managing in organisations is often associated with some underlying political tensions. Thus, good relationships are vital in deftly navigating difficult conversations and occasional personal challenges. Try to develop trusting relationships with fellow executives – this will help you feel more comfortable with conflicting agendas, which will in turn help you reach solutions that deliver mutual business benefit.
3. Adhere to rules of engagement
It’s natural for opinions to differ within an environment where there is no one right answer, and so where strong personalities and differing agendas occur it’s likely there will be clashes.
But every action does have a business implication, magnifying the level of personal scrutiny with which executives view each other.
To help you overcome this obstacle, you may want to explore ways to handle and neutralise situations where conflict occurs:
- Consider everyone’s side of the argument.
- Take highly contentious decisions one step at a time.
- Avoid rushing to a conclusion over solutions, when people might have very different views about what the problem is in the first place.
- It can be helpful to agree a consensual time-out indicator.
- Encourage people to try not to take things personally or hold grudges.
Not only will this help diffuse heated discussions, it will maintain healthy relationships and resolve tricky but essential business issues.
Cranfield's General Management Portfolio of programmes offers comprehensive leadership development to take you to the next level at every stage of your career.
Each of our three programmes offer a comprehensive and integrated personal development experience for managers at critical transition points in their leadership career.
Talent Development Programme - for early career professionals with high managerial potential.
General Management Programme - for senior managers who are expanding their responsibilities.
Breakthrough Leadership Programme - for executives and directors who are preparing their organisation for the future.
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