The Right Fight

Emma De Vita reviews Saj-Nicole Joni and Damon Beyer's alternative take on conflict management

Violence and management don't mix (although boardroom scuffles have been heard of).

The Right Fight, the new book by Saj-Nicole Joni and Damon Beyer, certainly doesn't encourage managers to resolve problematic situations by landing a right-hook on people who annoy them. But The Right Fight does propound the theory that, to achieve greatness, leaders must deploy conflict as a strategic weapon.

How so? According to the authors, the happiest employees aren't necessarily the most driven or the best - in fact, they are often complacent and unproductive. Joni and Beyer argue that great managers should meet this challenge head-on by instigating 'right fights' - organisation-wide tensions that, when channelled properly, can improve performance. Basically, a certain amount of struggle and stress energises people.

Third sector managers should know that 'right fights' have rules. Don't think you're allowed to punch below the belt. There are six principles, including "Make it sport, not war" and "Turn pain into gain". "For right fights to be fought right, leaders need to make sure no one is put under unbearable pressure," write the authors. Tell that to Gordon Brown.

- Emma De Vita is books editor of Management Today

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