A few years ago, I was working with a leader who was a department head as well as a member of the organization’s executive team. This leader had a healthy department with positive attitudes, good communication and strong relationships; however, several of the other departments within this organization were not so fortunate. There were many challenges going on in other departments from high turnover, continued gossip, poor communication and lack of trust, just to name a few.
When the conversation would turn to the challenges other departments within the organization were having, this leader would often say, “I am taking the high road and choose to stay out of the drama”. At first blush this seemed very noble; however, the challenge was that the “drama”, so to speak, was real and the other teams were quickly becoming dysfunctional.
When you serve on an executive team, you do not have the luxury of only concerning yourself with your department. As an executive leader you should recognize your responsibility not only to your own department, but to the entire organization. It is similar to being in a family, where you cannot (or should not) choose to stay at work all day/night to avoid the drama your spouse is dealing with at home when your teenager wants to take the car to a party at a fraternity house and “hang out” with 21 year olds. Unfortunately this happens all the time and greatly affects the entire family. Likewise, an executive leader cannot (should not) only concern themselves with their little “corner of the world” in the organization. This may seem like an extreme parallel but it is a true parallel that repeatedly happens in both the personal and professional worlds.