Stuck in the middle between alpha dogs
Wednesday, July 26, 2017
Ever been around a scenario where one director makes a decision, only to have another director counter that decision right in front of you? Depending on the kind of person you are, it can be enough to make you want to grab your headphones and focus your attention elsewhere — or grab the nearest bag of popcorn and get your jollies if you are a fan of work drama.
These situations happen more often than some want to admit at the workplace, and they can make anyone watching uncomfortable, particularly if that person respects both individuals involved in the confrontation.
It's no secret that true alpha dogs want to be the alpha dog at any given time. But how should you deal with being in the middle of something that could become an intense situation?
Consider this one of those interactive books you used to read as a child. Here are your three options:
You are not the referee
Think sports for a minute. A referee's primary responsibility is to make sure all rules are enforced and to arbitrate accordingly when a rule is broken. This is not your job. This isn't even your job when one of the alpha dogs — or both — ask for your opinion in the matter at hand.
Keep in mind that the two individuals you are dealing with are powerful people above you in the company. They have their share of decision-making ability. The last thing you want is to take the side of one only to anger the other.
The solution here: Stay impartial [and] silent. Understand that you have a voice, but use that voice to express your right to remain in the neutral zone. In this case, stay in your lane.
Straddle, man, straddle!
If you're one of those people who has to voice an opinion, remember that your every word matters. There's nothing wrong with commenting, but know your audience — especially if both alphas are the kinds of people who never forget what's said to them or about them.
Be objective, but in the same breath, be objective to both sides. Do not hesitate to straddle the fence in an effort to showcase facts presented by both sides. Fence-straddling is seen as someone not willing to take a strong stance on one side versus the other. In this case, that's perfectly fine. Plus, it keeps you out of hot water.
Back in 2016, Pamela Wasley and Kristen McAlister talked about how two alpha females made a partnership work. They focused on making common values matter and capitalizing on individual strengths.
If you have to incorporate yourself into the conversation — or if you're drawn into the conversation — make this a priority. But make it a priority to where it benefits both parties.
Turn the tide: Own the situation
So many people are frustrated with where they are in their field. They are always looking for an opportunity to rise at their company. Imagine the opportunities if you put yourself into a conversation of alphas and come up with a solution bigger than both.
Fast Company has an article involving how to train yourself to excel in uncomfortable situations. The article discusses surrounding yourself with diverse thinkers, as well as committing to situations outside of your comfort zone. The article also talks about how "leaders should urge team members to challenge them."
Putting yourself in the middle of alphas already is a crap shoot, but if you do it, playing the role of alpha dog could give you a new look to those who make important decisions.
In life, some of the best decisions started as gambles. The most powerful moguls in the world will co-sign.
When placed in the middle of two alphas, your next move is always your best move. Good luck with your ultimate decision.
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