Why Don’t You Cry About It — Dealing With Opposition


Have you observed how heavily, even in male dominated industries, pockets of drama and sensitivity are brewing in organizations?

While it is important as a leader to consider people’s feelings and care about the personal lives of the people on your team, personalities cannot be allowed to usurp the vision of the organization. When leaders allow individual personalities to be larger than the greater good and feelings to heavily influence decisions there is destabilization of momentum that will hinder operational success.

There will always be resistance — it must be addressed.

There will often be opposition — it must be addressed.

If resistance builds to opposition and opposition becomes rebellions, the battle will be much harder fought to restore the ranks.

When a point is reached where vision conflicts with persons and/or personalities there are two simple questions that must be asked:

1) Is this conflict exposing an issue with the vision? Was there something that leadership missed and members of the team are bringing attention to valid objections to the course the organization is charting?

2) Is this conflict exposing an issue with persons and/or personalities on our team? This is a layered process that will require further investigation to determine:

A) Is this person(s) having a normal adverse reaction to change and needs to vent? Can there be a discussion with this individual(s) that will allow them to express themselves so that they can understand the vision. Will this individual(s) be able to ultimately adapt themselves and their attitudes to the success of the team? As soon as dissension is noticed by leadership, a face-to-face meeting with individuals (or a group) should be set up to allow them to air their frustrations and establish that if there are concerns those should be discussed with their immediate supervisor not in the open with other team members.

B) Is this person(s) shinning a flood light on their character through the demonstration of their detrimental actions? As in the previous scenario an in-person meeting should be conducted as promptly as possible. In situations where an individual is conducting themselves more clearly to be pernicious, the purpose of this meeting will be to establish that the negative actions need to cease immediately and an action plan with clear expectations as well as consequences will be put in place.

Children play better when their is a fence around the playground. Leadership has the responsibility to establish the boundaries for an organization and to clarify the rules of the playground. A team is going to disagree, leadership needs to set an example for how the unit will deal with conflict. Establishing the core values and directions of the organization (or reminding a team of them) requires effort to clarify the vision and consistency in enforcing it. Article: Building Success In Policy Compliance

Nothing vivifies, and nothing kills, like the emotions.
– Joseph Roux

When emotions are flaring or team members are raging against the machine, before responding a leader should take an inventory as to whether the expectations and boundaries have been clearly communicated. Not everyone will appreciate the value of a directive, nor does everyone in the organization have to. The goal for leadership should be to clarify the value of the protocol(s), clarify the expectations and create consistency within the system. Management and employees can choose whether to work with the team to succeed in reaching collective goals or individuals will reveal that they are not a good fit for the system.

Were the directions clear? Has leadership been consistent? Is there still opposition that is affecting performance? It is time to make a change. Change can be very positive as: 1) the organization releases those resisting individuals to find an team that is a better suited to their talents, 2) the organization shows that accountability is important to management by demonstrating with actions that the team is more important than any individual (even a “star”) and 3) that leadership will consistently live by it’s stated values.


Where things can naturally become emotionally charged include tough decisions such as having to part ways with a tenured employee or cut someone loose that has great potential. Bringing a long term business relationship to an end with an individual who has historically been a high producer can be a painful process. Someone who has contributed in the past to the growth of the company but no longer fits or shares the vision with the team should take their talents elsewhere to an organization that is better suited to their production standards. Another difficult scenario is the realization that an organization may have to discontinue their contract with an employee who has the upside to be a future star but whom does not have the current maturity to be a consistent contributor.


At key decision points where opposition crosses path with vision and there is a showdown over values, will leadership close the door and tearfully chant like Jenny in Forrest Gump, “Dear God make me a bird so that I can fly far, far away.” Or will leadership take it’s box of chocolates and rise to the challenges with the sage advice of Mr. Gump, “Mama always said you’ve got to put the past behind you before you can move on.” Kick those braces off and start running with vision. The organization may just find that there is a whole group of dedicated runners who are willing to track across the continent with you.


Originally published at dyojo.wordpress.com on January 14, 2016.

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