The Right Fight: How Great Leaders Use Healthy Conflict to Drive Performance, Innovation, and Value

Overview

The Right Fight, the new management guide from noted business strategists Saj-nicole Joni and Damon Beyer, turns management thinking on its head and shows why, in the fast-moving, hyper-competitive marketplaces of the 21st century, leaders need to both foster alignment and orchestrate thoughtful controversy in their organizations to get the best out of them. The authors’ groundbreaking research—including examples as diverse as Unilever, Microsoft, Coca-Cola, Dell, the Clinton Administration, and the Houston ...

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The Right Fight: How Great Leaders Use Healthy Conflict to Drive Performance, Innovation, and Value

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Overview

The Right Fight, the new management guide from noted business strategists Saj-nicole Joni and Damon Beyer, turns management thinking on its head and shows why, in the fast-moving, hyper-competitive marketplaces of the 21st century, leaders need to both foster alignment and orchestrate thoughtful controversy in their organizations to get the best out of them. The authors’ groundbreaking research—including examples as diverse as Unilever, Microsoft, Coca-Cola, Dell, the Clinton Administration, and the Houston Independent School System—shows that happy workers can become bored or complacent and thus less productive than workers who are subjected to a little properly managed tension. Readers of Good to Great and Winning, as well as the Harvard Business Review and Strategy + Business, will find much to ponder in The Right Fight.

Organizational harmony and strategic alignment aren't enough to drive success.

Until now, management wisdom would have you believe that the single most important thing leaders have to get right is alignment. To accomplish anything, employees must agree about the mission, strategy, and goals of an organization. Aligned employees are happy employees, and happy employees are productive employees. Simple, right?

Well, in a word, no. Counter to conventional wisdom, the dirty little secret of leadership—what they don't tell you in business school—is that a leader's time is not always best spent trying to help his or her teams make nice and get along. In contrast, the authors' groundbreaking research shows that fostering productive dissent is essential for achieving peak efficiency—what Joni and Beyer call "right fights."

Right fights need to be well designed and subject to certain rules to be effective. Alignment cannot be ignored; without it, organizations can be plagued with bitter, energy-draining wrong fights. But a certain amount of healthy struggle is good for organizations. Right fights unleash the creative, productive potential of teams, organizations, and communities.

The Right Fight turns management thinking on its head and shows why leaders—in the fast-moving, hyper-competitive marketplaces of the twenty-first century—need to foster alignment and orchestrate thoughtful controversy in their organizations to get the best results. Drawing from examples as diverse as Unilever, Microsoft, Coca-Cola, Dell, the Clinton administration, and the Katy Independent School System, here is your playbook for picking the right battles and fighting the right fights well.

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  • Saj-nicole Joni & Damon Beyer
    Saj-nicole Joni & Damon Beyer  

Editorial Reviews

Warren Bennis
"Anybody in any organization who has any responsibility must read this book."
Douglas R. Conant
"Provocative and unique…The Right Fight illustrates how a healthy dose of tension energized some of the world’s most respected companies. It worked at Campbell."
is the NYT bestselling author of Succession: Are You Ready? and What Got You Here Won't Get You There - Marshall Goldsmith
"Managing tension and conflicting ideas is but part of the equation. Using them to steer the organization toward success is the other part, which is often overlooked. In The Right Fight, Saj-Nicole Joni and Damon Beyer show us how to use conflict the right way!"
Rolf Classon
"Tensions are the road to competitiveness, while consensus often leads to mediocrity. Saj-nicole, the nicest person on earth got it right - encouraging the right fight is the hallmark of true leadership. Great ideas are born from competition, and thrive when subjected to survival of the fittest."
Bridgette Heller
"If you care about how well organizations work, you need to buy this book, get out a highlighter, and mark up the pages. It will change the way you think about teams and how they’re run. And it will raise your collective performance and sense of satisfaction."
Gaurdie E. Banister Jr.
"The authors have absolutely nailed one of the critical unspoken tools in the leadership tool kit. The book helped me reflect on the right and wrong fights of the past and begin planning my next one!"
Jacqueline Novogratz
"If you’re a leader at any level, The Right Fight will inspire you to embrace organizational tensions, and in so doing, release the energies needed to solve your most complex problems. This is one of the most practical business books I’ve read and I recommend it highly."
Doug Stone
"The wisdom runs deep and the stories jump off the page. Joni and Beyer show us why alignment is not enough. Fighting the right fights right can be the difference between survival and extinction. This book should be at the top of any leaders reading list."
—Booklist
“Joni and Beyer…present valuable, thought-provoking ideas”
—Warren Bennis
“Anybody in any organization who has any responsibility must read this book.”
—Douglas R. Conant
“Provocative and unique…The Right Fight illustrates how a healthy dose of tension energized some of the world’s most respected companies. It worked at Campbell.”
—Marshall Goldsmith is the NYT bestselling author of Succession: Are You Ready? and What G
“Managing tension and conflicting ideas is but part of the equation. Using them to steer the organization toward success is the other part, which is often overlooked. In The Right Fight, Saj-Nicole Joni and Damon Beyer show us how to use conflict the right way!”
—Rolf Classon
“Tensions are the road to competitiveness, while consensus often leads to mediocrity. Saj-nicole, the nicest person on earth got it right - encouraging the right fight is the hallmark of true leadership. Great ideas are born from competition, and thrive when subjected to survival of the fittest.”
—Bridgette Heller
“If you care about how well organizations work, you need to buy this book, get out a highlighter, and mark up the pages. It will change the way you think about teams and how they’re run. And it will raise your collective performance and sense of satisfaction.”
—Gaurdie E. Banister Jr.
“The authors have absolutely nailed one of the critical unspoken tools in the leadership tool kit. The book helped me reflect on the right and wrong fights of the past and begin planning my next one!”
—Jacqueline Novogratz
“If you’re a leader at any level, The Right Fight will inspire you to embrace organizational tensions, and in so doing, release the energies needed to solve your most complex problems. This is one of the most practical business books I’ve read and I recommend it highly.”
—Doug Stone
“The wisdom runs deep and the stories jump off the page. Joni and Beyer show us why alignment is not enough. Fighting the right fights right can be the difference between survival and extinction. This book should be at the top of any leaders reading list.”
Publishers Weekly
“A convincing and counterintuitive argument that instigating dissent, if done selectively, can produce big results.”
Booklist
"Joni and Beyer…present valuable, thought-provoking ideas"
Publishers Weekly
Business strategists and consultants Joni and Beyer argue that carefully created and managed tensions in the workplace can be a propulsive aid in driving performance. The authors state that alignment—agreement on mission, strategy, and company goals—gets a business only so far; strategically steered conflict can create breakthrough performance, deliver lasting innovation, and groom the next generation of leaders. The authors offer six guiding principles: make sure the fight matters; focus on the future; pursue a noble purpose; keep conflict sport, not war; structure formally, but work informally; and turn pain into gain. Elucidating key points are numerous case studies of successful creative tension (Julie Taymor's production team for the Broadway play The Lion King, Doug Conant's management of Campbell Soup) and failures (Larry Summers's overly aggressive leadership style at Harvard University). The authors also provide a series of questions for managers to determine if the fight is worth pursuing. Joni and Beyer make a convincing and counterintuitive argument that instigating dissent, if done selectively, can produce big results. (Feb.)
From the Publisher
"Merlington sounds engaged with the material.... [She] persuasively delivers the author's belief that once...internal struggles are attacked and won, then external fights become more productive." —-AudioFile
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780061717161
  • Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers
  • Publication date: 2/2/2010
  • Pages: 237
  • Sales rank: 1,021,131
  • Product dimensions: 6.00 (w) x 8.90 (h) x 1.10 (d)

Meet the Author


Damon Beyer is a partner at Katzenbach Partners LLC, consulting with senior managers on issues of business strategy, operations effectiveness, leadership, and organizational performance.

Saj-nicole Joni is the founder and CEO of Cambridge International Group Ltd. and the author of The Third Opinion: How Successful Leaders Use Outside Insight to Create Superior Results.

Laural Merlington has recorded well over one hundred audiobooks, including works by Margaret Atwood and Alice Hoffman, and is the recipient of several AudioFile Earphones Awards. An Audie Award nominee, she has also directed over one hundred audiobooks.

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