Leveraging Conflicting Tensions and Senior Team Dynamics

As a leader, are you willing to really explore the tensions and dynamics impacting team performance within your organization? Are you hooked on finding team harmony, or are you willing to consider something more complicated, but ultimately much more productive?

We have written before on the value of embracing constructive conflict, and continue to believe it is a core competence of successful teams. We now have an opportunity to look at it again, in a slightly different light, thanks to a recent article in the Harvard Business Review entitled The Best Senior Teams Thrive on Disagreement.

In this article, the authors are presenting some convincing research showing that the greatest predictor of top-team performance at the enterprise level is not cohesion, but rather the ability to manage conflicting tensions. Trust and positive team dynamics are critical foundational elements of course, but appreciating and managing these tensions will elevate the senior team performance.

Delving a little deeper, you will find these conflicting tensions are identified as:

  • Risk vs. Results – creating circumstances where both risk and day-to-day delivery can peacefully coexist.
  • External vs. Internal Pull – consistently scanning the external environment for consumer, competitor and industry knowledge, and using that knowledge to adapt internally.
  • Top-down vs. Bottom-up Innovation – managing the tension between leading and directing innovation, while also engaging and empowering the broader organization.

High performing senior teams navigate these tensions well, recognizing they represent a spectrum of behaviours and processes to be managed, rather than isolated problems to be solved. We believe you will find great value in exploring these concepts, understanding how they are at play in your own organization and learning how to manage the tensions.

To read the full article, you can go to https://hbr.org/2017/09/the-best-senior-teams-thrive-on-disagreement