One of the toughest challenges leaders face is managing diverse perspectives—and given heightened tensions over politics and movements such as #MeToo and Black Lives Matter, that’s more difficult today than ever before. At the same time, productive disagreement and engagement with opposing views are crucial to high-functioning teams and organizations. So how can leaders both foster passionate debate and preserve collaboration and trust? Drawing from work conducted with scholars of psychology, sociology, and management, Harvard’s Julia A. Minson and Francesca Gino offer advice for leaders on approaching disagreements productively and helping employees at all levels do so. Tactics include training that defuses fears of disagreeing (it’s usually not as unpleasant as we expect); encourages people to cultivate a receptive mindset by, for instance, intentionally considering information from the opposing perspective; teaches people to choose words carefully, hedge claims, and emphasize areas of agreement; and fosters a culture of tolerance through actions and tone. Honing these skills takes time and practice, but the resulting decrease in frustration and negativity is well worth the effort.
Minson, Julia, and Francesca Gino. "Managing a Polarized Workforce." Harvard Business Review 100.3-4 (March 2022): 63-71.