Triangulation #2

A natural artifact of ANY differences in location is an “Us vs. Them” mentality. Human beings are wired to seek stability and security by banding with those closest while treating “outsiders” as a threat.

While this condition is always true in branch / satellite offices, it can occur between floors, between hallways, between projects and even across the same room (especially if the inhabitants of the areas in the room have different functions and thus different professional identities).

While this internal “Us vs. Them” is a tempting vehicle for managers to use to triangulate and create more passion, engagement, and esprit de corps, the unintended consequences are often naively looked past, denied, or rationalized away.

While in the short run, a little “friendly competition” can be a good thing, the long-term results are always negative if not disastrous. It takes great leadership awareness and skilled nuance managing the fine line that occurs as soon as you start that “internal competition;” it is rare the leader who can do it effectively. Take that as a word of caution based on 24 years consulting and working with leaders to regain cooperation across functions, distances, and offices after “Us vs. Them” has started.

The antidote is ALWAYS to replace the internally triangulated dynamic with an external point that the now allied internal factions can focus their energies.

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