The Right Fight: How Great Leaders use Healthy Conflict to Drive Performance, Innovation and Value

London – 2 February 2010. Conventional management theory holds that alignment is the bedrock of successful organisations.  But in their bold and compelling new book published today, THE RIGHT FIGHT: How Great Leaders Use Healthy Conflict to Drive Performance, Innovation, and Value, authors Saj-nicole Joni and Damon Beyer argue that alignment only takes companies so far. To achieve greatness, leaders must deploy another (complementary) strategic weapon: conflict.

Backed by real-world know-how and original research, these in-demand consultants recognise that, contrary to popular belief, happy employees aren’t necessarily the most driven or best employees; surprisingly, multiple studies show that in a culture of harmony they often grow complacent and unproductive.

According to Joni and Beyer, great leaders meet this challenge head-on by instigating and overseeing right fights, company-wide tensions that, when channeled properly, can create breakthrough performance, meaningful innovation, and lasting value. The authors’ fundamental premise: a certain amount of struggle and stress energises organisations and individuals and leads to optimal execution.

In fact, all great leaders use alignment and conflict in balanced measure to drive exceptional results over time. Alignment is extremely important – but it’s only part of the story. Once people are aligned and share high trust, they are then in a position to fight for what really matters, in a mission-driven and high-minded way.

THE RIGHT FIGHT identifies the six Right Fight Principles, explaining the issues worth fighting over and the tactics for fighting fairly—as well as the wrong fights to avoid at all costs. The core maxims of this philosophy, examined here in detail, are: Make It Material; Focus on the Future, Not the Past; Pursue a Noble Purpose; Make It Sport, Not War; Structure Formally but Work Informally; and Turn Pain into Gain.

Taken together, these principles form a practical, comprehensive guide to harnessing the power of Right Fights for progress in every organisation, industry, and functional area, particularly when uncertainty, diversity of view, risk, and breakthrough are needed. Indeed, the concepts outlined in THE RIGHT FIGHT can be applied just about everywhere you look.

As fascinating case studies ranging from Campbell Soup, GE, and Broadway’s The Lion King to Dove, Microsoft, and the Reagan administration demonstrate, this dynamic approach benefits people and organisations in three essential ways: lowering risks with an effective system of checks and balances, generating value by sparking real transformation, and growing better managers for the future.

Today, with global interdependence, giant matrix organizations, and a relentlessly rapid pace, navigating change is more difficult than ever before. And now, Joni and Beyer give every leader, team, organisation, and individual all of the advice and tools required to implement this forward-thinking battle plan—and ultimately, reap extraordinary rewards.