Cisco CEO John Chambers says as a leader you need to be able to defuse arguments to avoid problems in the company and without ruining relationships with other executives and staff. He says that healthy disagreement is “constructive friction,” but leaders have to remember that they should not create more division and must align their teams to pursue a common purpose. Chambers says it is important to find areas of interest to help connect with each person in a meeting. TED speaker and human rights attorney Bryan Stevenson says he often talks about his grandmother’s influence on him to make a connection with his audience. Beyond connecting with people personally, leaders need to contest ideas, not disrespect the people they disagree with. For instance, U.S. Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg often disagreed with her friend, former Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia, but they never attacked each other. “When we disagreed, my final opinion was always clearer and more convincing than my initial circulation. Justice Scalia homed in on all the soft spots, energizing me to strengthen my presentation,” she said. Transformative leaders are those who find ways of bridging the divide to bring people together.
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