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  • Writer's pictureMatt Stephenson

Breaking Deadlocks - doing what's right for the business



Anyone who knows me knows that I like to operate a meritocracy in my teams or with my clients on a day to day basis. Everyone has their own skills and experience to bring to the table, and I'd be missing a trick if I didn't give everyone the opportunity to be heard. I'm there to set direction, ensure clarity of purpose and unblock issues to let team members do their best work.


That said, the hierarchy does become important when a stalemate is reached between teams or team members. When that happens, teams needs strong leaders who will break the deadlock, and you can’t keep everyone happy all of the time.


If two or more options are available in any decision, and each has support from some quarter, it is the role of the leader to promote a climate where everyone gets the chance to be heard. Then, if a consensus still isn’t reached, you will need to step in and make the decision.


Teams needs strong leaders who will break the deadlock, and you can’t keep everyone happy all of the time.

In this situation, by definition, you will have to choose a course of action that doesn’t please everyone. If you aren’t going to please everyone, you may as well choose the course that is best for the business. Don’t worry about upsetting some people because whichever option you choose will result in that!


Don’t choose the route based on who shouts loudest. Don’t choose based on who you like the best. Definitely don’t choose the easiest option just because it is the easiest option.


If you aren’t going to please everyone, you may as well choose the course that is best for the business.

Choose the route that, based on the evidence and argument presented, makes the most sense for the business, meets the most objectives, creates the better opportunities, and so on. Be clear about your rationale for your choice, and then take accountability for it.


If you have to break a deadlock, it is often true that there isn’t a lot to choose between the options. If there’s no right or wrong answer, just a collection of benefits and drawbacks to buy into, be clear about what they are and follow through with your decision. There’s nothing worse than breaking a deadlock indecisively.


Provided everyone has had the opportunity to contribute to the debate, and the rationale for your decision is clear, most good team members will get behind the decision and move on.

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