Navigating the Crossfire


“Things are challenging — there are those who will oppose anything if it is not their idea…scheduled a team meeting tomorrow to do some work planning and I think that will help disperse some of the responsibilities a bit and give me some more time to manage the personalities.”

A client recently shared this status update.  Does it sound familiar?  Anytime change is afoot you can expect crossfire.  It can happen with a recently promoted manager, as a result of a natural disaster, in a merger and acquisition, and in the “business as usual team meeting.” How do you navigate naturally occurring crossfire and make it a powerful, not a destructive force?

Crossfire occurs when a strength in one person triggers a strength in another.  How many of us walk into a meeting or planning session intending to push back on the ideas suggested?  “I want to argue with you” say not many people.  (There are a few delightful exceptions we all know!)  Strengths get triggered during every day interactions among team members.  But strengths getting triggered is not the problem.  The problem arises in the reaction to the crossfire.   Will you use the crossfire to make the idea even stronger?  Or will the crossfire blow up the idea and the people and teams involved?

As you can see from the client message above, she is making a choice to use the crossfire for the good.  “Work planning” and “disperse responsibilities” will help with time pressure and allow her to position people in their strengths.  “Time to manage the personalities” shows that she is thinking about what each person needs, the outcome desired and how to engage others so the idea moves forward.  While the “idea” and the outcome may look a bit different than the client initially imagines, it has a far greater chance of coming to fruition because of her choice to navigate the crossfire and use it to make the idea stronger.

What happens in your team when strengths collide?  Is magic or mutiny made?

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