Leaders Avoid Overpowering During Conflict

Overpowering involves drawing on all the sources of power at our disposal to defeat someone during a conflict. Sometimes that power is social or organizational authority, but sometimes it’s simply using the force of a strong, vocal personality.

“It’s NOT GONNA HAPPEN!” Joyce shouted.

“Well,” said Marco, “I think things have changed enough that…”

“Who do you think you are?” Joyce interrupted. “I’m the lead here. And there are reasons for that. Do you need me to list them?”

Overpowering deliberately keeps others off balance and attempts to eliminate the possibility of a fair, even-handed discussion.

Marco was way junior to Joyce. Joyce had a strong track record. And yet, Joyce had blind spots. Marco had seen an external factor that was new, because of a new Federal guideline, because of his work in compliance. It was understandable that Joyce didn’t know. But Marco is an introvert, and Joyce didn’t make it safe for people to speak out, so Marco backed off.

Two months later, Joyce was taken to task by the legal team for moving so far forward on a new product that wouldn’t get regulatory approval. To her credit, she apologized to Marco and did better in the future. But the relationship was damaged, and the bottom line cost measured in the hundreds of thousands of dollars – all because of Joyce’s need to win.

Domineering behavior overrides logic, objectivity, and personal rights when resolving a dispute.

This strategy is particularly tempting when we are overcome by a strong, almost primal, urge to win the conflict.

What to do?

When you find yourself interrupting, using role power, or otherwise overpowering during conflict, ask yourself, “Is this a fair discussion and am I being logical, objective, and respectful?”

When you see others heading that way, remind the room that logic, objectivity, respect, and kindness are expected, and help ensure that everyone gets equal time, and asks more questions of each other.

Alan Feirer Group DynamicThanks for reading,

Alan Feirer




This is the 12th post in a series discussing what not to do during conflict situations. Effective leaders avoid portraying these 18 behaviors during conflict. Follow along as we explore the negative impact of these behaviors, and what to do instead.
Post 1: Leaders Avoid Arguing During Conflict
Post 2: Leaders Avoid Belittling During Conflict
Post 3: Leaders Avoid Caving In During Conflict
Post 4: Leaders Avoid Being Defensive During Conflict
Post 5: Leaders Avoid Dismissing Others’ Opinions During Conflict
Post 6: Leaders Avoid Drama During Conflict
Post 7: Leaders Avoid Exaggerating During Conflict
Post 8: Leaders Avoid Exclusion During Conflict
Post 9: Leaders Avoid Finger-Pointing During Conflict
Post 10: Leaders Avoid Gossiping During Conflict
Post 11: Leaders Avoid Hyper-Criticism During Conflict

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