When purposes clash at the workplace – Purpose of Living – Part 25

collegue purpose conflits
Image credits: http://www.insperity.com

Have you ever faced a situation where you have a purpose that clashes with the purpose of a colleague, such as your boss, peer or a direct report? Has this situation led to misunderstandings, arguments, anger, click formation, politicking and even violence that starts affecting the business of the organisation? How did you handle the situation? Has it made you become disgruntled about the notion of ‘purposeful living’ and even resulted in discouraging team members in living purposefully. I will try to address this issue in this blog post from the experience I have had in dealing with such situations as a team member from within the organisation or as a consultant and coach from outside the organisation.

Recently I had the opportunity of coaching a CEO of an organisation. He started from the front line as a sales representative and come to this position over a 20-year journey. Given his experience, he has mastered the business and he has also qualified in management by obtaining a MBA from the premier business school in the country. His goal is to continue in this role until retirement and become an authority on the subject. On the way to retirement, he plans to write a PhD thesis and books in his area of expertise and later, after retirement, to go into consulting, coaching and teaching. His current CFO is more interested in a different industry, close to his heart and he is developing his networks, finances and own business while being in the job. He does his job well and focuses on his own business during evenings and weekend. While this is technically not breaking the rules of the company, the CEO is concerned about his divided attention and divided energy. The CEO has discussed this issue with the CFO a few times, but the CFO has always tried to make him understand that there is no compromise and has assured that giving time to something concerned with his purpose only energizes him and helps him do better at work.

This became one of the discussions during the executive coaching process the CEO had undertaken with me. One of my questions from the CEO was, why do you do what you do? After a long discussion related to this question, we agreed that it is to inspire young people to believe in their unlimited potential irrespective of the conditions of their life and provide the technical and adaptive skills required for them to be successful in their lives. The discussion contained questions from me related to finding purpose as shared in earlier blog posts and answers from him that led to more questions. We identified that these young people he is committing to develop, as a part of his purpose of life, includes his children, relatives, friends, team members etc. We also agreed that part of his responsible is to help these young people find the beginning of their purpose and help develop them in line with that purpose.

Then my questioning led to the situation concerning his CFO and asked him, would you consider your CFO also someone you would treat like the other young people you are committed to serving? He agreed. Then I asked how would you help him develop to find and live his purpose? This was a lively and deep discussion which explored how he can assist the CFO to live purposefully without compromising the business he is working for. Could they agree on a part-time arrangement to avoid division of focus and energy? Could the business start a division in line with the CFO’s purpose and allow him to run that? Could the CFO move full-time in to his own business and continue to be associated with the company in a consultative role? How could the CEO mentor and coach the CFO to develop the required technical and adaptive skills to be able to play his role in the company while developing his own business in line with his own purpose?

This discussion continued during multiple coaching sessions and it helped the CEO look at the issues in a more holistic, humane and purposeful manner. They decided to stay with the questions and continue the discussions without rushing in to conclusion. This helped them to come up with workable solutions for the business and their individual purposes. This improved the relationship between the two and the performance of the business. While the situation is improving, they are continuing this process until they both agree that this is not an issue any more.

The takeaway from this is that we need to have sight on our purpose and allow that to energize the work we are doing in building ourselves to become more purposeful. Ensure that we stay in the process, taking good care not to be detrimental to our businesses, family, society etc. And the only way to ensure this is to have a noble intention in mind, be willing to reflect on and talk about the struggles and keep experimenting on possible options that helps resolve conflicts in purposes.

This new phase in this series on ‘purposefulness’, which I started three months ago, is dedicated to addressing living issues and struggles related to purposeful living. I hope this short blog post inspires you to find ways of dealing with conflicts that arise when trying to live purposefully.

I wish you purposeful living!

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