…am I being given a message? In an apparent flash of the Baader-Meinhoff Phenomenon, I’ve suddenly had two encounters in two days with professional development institutions. The first was an advertisement flashed on slacker.com for the Disney Institute, which has such course listings as “Disney’s Approach” to “Leadership Excellence” or “People Management.” The second flash was written on the cup held by a colleague in the office break room, advertising the Chick-fil-A Leadercast. Both titles “Disney” and “Chick-fil-A” didn’t strike me instantly as fonts of divine wisdom, but it’s difficult to argue that successful businesses will indeed be venues for the sages. But getting back to the coincidence…
I suppose the first ad was to be expected. Those hidden corporate ties and browser cookie snoops likely gleaned that I’ve been looking at executive coaching books. And I admit I just got done reading “The Five Dysfunctions of a Team: A Leadership Fable” by Patrick Lencioni, ordered online. This is a book I’m so impressed with that, well, it’s the real reason I’m writing this post. Normally I’d discuss hands-on technical or software development matters, but honestly far too much of project success depends on people issues. I highly recommend, neigh, imperatively commend serious professionals to digest this book. One of the Amazon reviewers outlined the five dysfunctions clearly, so rather than repeat that verbage here, I’ll simply high-light one point that greatly struck me.
Lencioni discusses how conflict in the office, often expressed as spirited arguments during meetings, are generally viewed distastefully in the U.S. corporate setting. And the higher in the management chain the arguments occur, the higher the fear that such episodes will be viewed as a personal failing of management. Thus there is a tendency to suppress arguments, either in duration or frequency – or perhaps forbid them altogether. Lencioni explains that this policy or reaction is misguided, and reveals how suppressed argumentation actually causes much more harm and wasted time than is “saved” from bypassing them! Obviously he recognizes and qualifies what constitutes a productive and non-productive argument, so that only the fruitful arguments occur and, ironically, occur regularly.
Having given this tidbit, now it’s time for me to turn my attention to the next “professional development” subtle hint from the universe. If you are reading this post, it might be your subtle hint as well.