Two wrongs can make it right...

It's an old cliche that we all know. Two wrongs don't make a right. While that's true and sage advice for most situations, when it comes to strategy, it could be the reason you aren't getting anywhere.

Look, today we are living in one of the most polarizing times of human history. Everybody has an opinion, and everybody thinks that their opinion is correct. Politics is the best example of dysfunctional decision making. People are more concerned with their party claiming a win than they are with making the best decision to solve a real problem. In fact, it has become so bad that if I don't agree with your opinion, not only am I wrong, but you feel actual hatred towards me. it's like I am committing some kind of treasonous act towards you. And now that you have drawn that line in the sand with me, we can no longer problem solve together. It's over. It's your way or no way.

This is a terrible way to tackle the very complex problems that we have in our world and in our businesses. The funny thing is, we all know that. We teach our children to treat people with respect, to compromise, to share, and to be inclusive of all people. So why do those values seemingly go out the window when we become adults? Well, because we are a product of our environment. And the real issue is that we are no longer fully in control of that environment. The information that you receive is so specifically tailored to you by an algorithm, that you have no choice but to believe the things you do because those are the only things that you now see and get exposed to.

People feel the need to be right, regardless of the cost

So let's recognize the fact that we maybe aren't seeing both sides of the argument fully. Before you disagree, listen. Seek to understand. This doesn't mean that you have to agree, it simply means that you must acknowledge that an alternative view may exist. It also means that the alternative viewpoint doesn't make the other party a bad person, or stupid, or misinformed. Our perspectives and life experiences are what shape those opinions. So if I have lived a very different life than you, it's important to take that into consideration.

OK, so now that we understand each other, and acknowledge that we have differing opinions, who wins? Before I answer that, let's take a moment to think about the problem. What is it that we are actually trying to solve. First of all, is it something that can be solved? If it is, do we have the resources and abilities to actually solve it? If we do, what is the specific outcome that we are hoping to have? And with that outcome, what are the potential risks or unintended consequences that may happen if we proceed? You see, there is much to define about the problem and the outcomes that needs to be discussed, defined, and understood before we even think about arguing about the "how".

Most people start with how they will solve the problem before we even understand what the problem is, and what we want the outcome to actually be. So we end up arguing over the "how" so passionately that we both leave the table and have no path forward. So the problem continues to be a problem. And worse yet, we think it's still a problem because of the other person. Because they won't do what you want them to do. Sound familiar?

Leadership solves problems that achieve common outcomes

I believe that what's missing through all of this is leadership. Leadership doesn't take sides. Leadership creates progress. Leadership fosters solutions. You need a strong leader to bring both sides back to the table, and help them understand the problem first. Decide on what the outcome needs to be. Then figure out how best to get there. In most cases, it boils down to finding the middle ground and making compromises that allow you to achieve the outcome both sides want to see. At the end of the day, most people want the same things, we just struggle to see that because we have different ideas on how to get there. Often times understanding both "wrongs" can lead you to the proper "right".

#leadership #problemsolving #politics #leadershipdevelopment #conflict #conflictresolution