CIO Power Politics: The Conflict Role

CIO Power Politics: The Conflict Role



you hi I'm Tina you know from Gartner we all know the old adage to choose your battles wisely but do you focus also on what the best role is for you to take in that conflict particularly when you have no choice and whether or not you're taking on that battle I'd like to share with you a story of a CIO who I worked with a few years ago who was in a situation that many CEOs have related to me since then the CIO reported to his business unit president but he also had a dotted line report to the global CIO one day the global CIO wanted to do a global initiative as global CEOs do but the business unit president didn't want to cooperate he didn't think it was good for his business and truth be told he didn't like the global CIO the two of them did not get along so the two executives but the CIO in the middle and asked him to make the decision of which direction they should go it was very contentious in the CIO didn't know what to do but ultimately what he decided to do was decide with his business unit president for two reasons first because he thought that this was the right thing to do for his business unit and for the company he did believe that this was the right answer relative to the business the second reason he chose this is because he thought his business unit president could protect him in the conflict unfortunately he was wrong the global CIO got him fired anyways and the CIO is greatest frustration was he couldn't imagine what else he could have done to have handled the situation any differently unfortunately the CIO might have considered choosing a very different role in the conflict these two executives push the conflict down to him whereas he had alternatives that he might have considered to push the conflict back up to them there are four potential roles that you might take in any given conflict the role that you choose is based on your appetite for risk as well as how involved you want to be in the situation so for example the least level of involvement is the observer when I'm an observer in a conflict between two powerful warring parties I simply watch and I wait to see who's left standing at the end and I follow them if this is the solution that I take and the approach that I take when I'm not particularly vested in the outcome there's a higher level of involvement an advisor when I have more interest in the outcome so I want to influence it but I don't want to be held accountable for it so I advise both parties preferably I give them both the same advice and then I step back and I'd let them decide and whatever they decide is what I live with now if I'm more invested in the decision it impacts me even more greatly I might consider being the broker I might actively try to bring the two warring parties together I might sit them down I might shuttle back and forth and do shuttle diplomacy but one way or another I try to bring the two of them together and broker a result but we only do this when we believe that they will actually abide by the negotiated result if you do not believe that they will abide I don't recommend this particular approach because if you don't successfully negotiate the peace you will end up owning the war there's only one level higher of approach relative to dealing with a conflict and that is total ownership if you're the owner of the conflict then you are bound to resolve it but I only recommend that you take this position when you have all the power and authority you need to resolve the conflict in the situation that I described the CIO did not have all the power that he needed to resolve this particular conflict so unfortunately whereas the executives pushed the conflict down to him he would have likely done a bit better had he decided to push that conflict back up and take it a more distant role other than ownership so I encourage you to think very carefully about the role that you take in a conflict particularly between two or more very challenging stakeholders you may find that you'll get a better outcome in the result and protect yourself in the organization at the same time you

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