Most people try to avoid getting involved in drama at the office. However, Margaret Heffernan, a former CEO of five businesses, says, "Good disagreement is central to progress."
In her 2012 TED Talk "Dare to Disagree," Heffernan argues that successful teams and businesses are formed when people are able to "deeply disagree." However, she says that most people are afraid of confrontation, which is detrimental to their professional development. Her presentation has over 3 million views.
Heffernan explains that in surveys of European and American executives, 85 percent of them acknowledged that they had issues or concerns at work that they were afraid to raise. Why? Because they were "afraid of the conflict that would provoke, afraid to get embroiled in arguments that they did not know how to manage and felt that they were bound to lose," she says.
However, Heffernan says that conflict is simply showing that you're knowledgeable about your subject matter and are willing to be authoritative, which is a necessary skill for a leader.
The former CEO admits that these are skills that must be practiced over time. "I think we need to be teaching these skills to kids and adults at every stage of their development," she says, "if we want to have thinking organizations and a thinking society."
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