Every once in a while I’m asked to contribute to a multi-person interview or, as in this case, miss the mark in response to a HARO request.
The specific request was:
Seeking co-owner entrepreneurs whose personalities and working
styles clash, but who have found ways to successfully balance
the tension. For example, different approaches to deadlines and
scheduling. Co-founders can be friends, spouses, siblings. Need
description of company, how many owners, the type of tension or
differences, how you’ve resolved it. Publicists must have owners
respond to these questions. No third-party responses please.
Sadly my response didn’t match perfectly the journalist’s desire but I thought it was worth sharing with you anyway.
Angie and Will Scott, COO, CEO and Co-Founders,
Selectee of multiple Inc. 500/5000
The administrator of The Predictive Index was amazed. She said “Wow, you guys are complete opposites”! I told her we preferred to think of it as Yin and Yang – we complete each other.
We have worked together as long as we’ve known each other – we met on the job – and we’ve been running a business together for nearly 13 years. In that time, we’ve learned a few things which make it work while raising a 12 year old and 16 year old at home.
- We do our best to not take it personally and try really hard to not bring the argument home. Conflict in a company is how decisions are made, but they sometimes make a marriage hard. Reaffirming that the conflict is about the conflict and not the person helps.
- Clear boundaries are important. Will jokes that after 12.5 years in business he was finally able to read the financials which Angie prepares. And please don’t ask Angie to get up at a podium in front of 300 people — which is where Will shines.
- Having a strong leadership team helps a LOT. When your bosses are husband and wife it can be hard when disagreements happen. Our leadership team understand that it’s not personal and thankfully can hold their own when tensions are high.
- Forget that balance BS. When the co-founders and business leaders are family it’s hard, not impossible, to leave it at the office. We’re hopeful our kids will remember when they get older that it’s OK to talk about work at the dinner table. Often that’s where problems get solved. This is how they learn to problem solve.
As a team we have studied leadership, coaching and interpersonal communication and all of these have played a part in our ability to get things done amidst such different styles of leadership.
The number 1 lesson of many of these works, The Coaching Habit, Crucial Conversations and others is to realize that both you and the other party are telling your own story. For successful communication you have to get through the stories to the facts and the feelings and then you’ve got something to work with. The “story” is seldom the whole truth. If you can agree to the facts you can share your feelings and then get some work done.
Isn’t she great?