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Constructive Confrontation : Absolute must for Transformational Leadership

Source | LinkedIn : By Sheel Majumdar

Recently on the sidelines of a meeting, I caught up with a colleague and had a rather “intense” discussion around – Asian Culture and their inability to Confront! I have lived and worked in India all my life (except for the last year, when I am at Philippines), and I am aware of the Cultural context in eastern side of the world in comparison to the western counterparts. Yet, I didn’t agree and my argument was – Confrontation is an interaction activity that if done rightly can be Culture agnostic and always constructive. Allow me to expand on this!

The modern times are transformative in every way – Business Models are being disrupted / busted, Customers are changing, the Cash Cow product / service of companies are becoming obsolete sending the companies in pursuit of reinventing themselves overnight – just to stay alive (e.g. Telcos) and so on. Imagine the scenario in the boardrooms and meeting rooms. Those aren’t places of harmony. Opinions & assumptions, are being challenged, dissected, debated and canned by the second, creating enormous amount of climatic tension. In such volatile environments it’s difficult to suspend individual emotions, biases, judgements to always be realistic, pragmatic and objective. In the times ahead, Leaders and team members will get assessed and judged based on the question:

“Did they create Energy in the due course of the above process? Or did they drain energy out of the system?”

If that is the case, then the additional conundrum is: How do we continuously Challenge / Confront the Status Quo and yet continue to Create energy to move the world forward?

Let’s take a step backward, and build the case step by step:

What is Confrontation?

The dictionary says the following (Fig.).

The adjectives “hostile” “argumentative” create a certain negative picture in our mind. Confrontation as an act is always a state of disagreement of people, ideologies, opinions, observations, emotions, etc. and this state results in a moment / situation of “Clash” between the two or multiple sides.

With that definition and context, there is always going to be a mental perception of that activity. Cultures that are more open and comfortable with directness, would engage in such conversation more readily than others.

What is the need for Confrontation (professionally)?

In any performance environment (Business, Sports, Academics, Research etc.) where there is a need to push present limits, raise the bar, stretch beyond comfort zones, there is a need to question the status quo. And it’s here majority of times, Confrontation happens. Leaders, Coaches, Mentors, Guides – Tend to raise the disequilibrium through specific confrontational moments that creates moment of learning, introspection, discomfort which then leads to productive disruption. (at least that’s the intent). Organizations that are constantly growing & transforming, needs constant productive disruption, hence the need for leaders and professionals to build strong confrontational mindset. On several occasions (there are zillion examples) when these don’t work and relationships, credibility, trust and respect, takes major bashing only to demolish environmental harmony forever.

Read On…


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