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Leaders at war

In world wars, it was leadership rivalry that spun countries into chaos. Two people thinking they knew what was right, felt entitled and were hungry for power pointing weapons at the other in a show of strength. Both believed what they were fighting for, and neither had perspective on the other side. They gathered soldiers who bought into the fight and put their lives on the line.

Now, trade guns for mean spirited language and rumours, and lives for livelihood, and it is exactly the same scenario when a business partnership fails! Sound like a stretch? Let me lay it out! When the relationship between the two leaders of the business breaks down (for whatever reason) the cohesion, collaboration and unity between the two break up as well, sometimes despite all efforts. That’s because when you lose faith in someone, trusting their intentions becomes impossible and undermining begins.

From here, you start gathering support (aka soldiers) who are on your side and believe in your vision. You speak negatively of the other person, start undermining their leadership and authority and having others lose trust or faith in them. You separate your activities, don’t consult each other, start acting like separate entities in your own right naively thinking you’ve got it all under control it is just the two of you that are suffering through this ordeal.

Not the case my belligerent friend.

Despite all of your efforts... your energy, your language, your obvious disengagement filters through the business and effects every single one of your employees. It’s like when mum and dad fight, the kids are made to feel uncomfortable and don’t know who to go to when they need a snack. Some employees fear it, others take advantage of it but when it comes down to it, it is the collateral damage of an internal war. In war, it’s solved by a body count and surrender. This means significant staff turnover and someone walking away begrudgingly leaving a trail of bad blood that stains the floors of your business. In marriage, a messy divorce.

Now, if those endings don’t appeal to you, it’s time to talk! You need to address the elephant in the room with your business partner and both be brutally honest about how you feel and what you want in a resolution. Even if you break up, you could do it amicably and design an outcome without bloodshed. And if you can resolve it, even better. But dragging your business into an untenable war where no one wins? Well, that behaviour doesn’t build empires, profit or success.

My advice?

  • Rise above the emotion and put your cards on the table.

  • Go into the discussions with an open mind and talk one on one.

  • Be honest, be genuine and be focused on a positive outcome, whatever that may be.

And finally remember, you did this together and at one time you were part of the same dream.

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