Even CEOs who resist the temptation to protect their status, to be popular with their direct reports, to make correct decisions, and to create harmony sometimes fail. Why? Because even though they are willing to cultivate productive conflict, their people may not be willing to do so. Why not? Because the CEO gives in to the final temptation: the desire for invulnerability.
CEOs are relatively powerful people. Being vulnerable with their peers and reports is not a comfortable prospect. They mistakenly believe that they lose credibility if their people feel too comfortable challenging their ideas.
No matter how much these CEOs encourage productive conflict, they do not achieve it because it doesn’t feel safe to their people, ...