3 Keys to Leading Teams During a Time of Divisive Opinions and Tension

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Gone are the days of avoiding politics and religion at the dinner table. Today, we often wear our opinions and beliefs on our sleeves, and divisive views dominate the news. Employees are increasingly vocalizing their support or dissent for various causes and issues and expecting their places of work to take a stand. With a major election occurring next year, and tensions sure to arise throughout the process, now is the time for you to invest in your company’s cultural foundation so that no matter the circumstances, a team’s cohesion and productivity aren’t collateral damage of the election cycle.

This climate can be treacherous for business leaders trying to unite teams toward productive goals. Employers who stay quiet or whose views land on an unpopular side of the debate risk sparking discord — in fact, 40% of workers would consider quitting their job if their leader took a stance they disagreed with, according to a recent CNBC|Momentive Workforce Survey. Oftentimes, though, quiet can be misconstrued as well, or worse, become a void filled by others’ opinions that may not be in the best interest of the business.

We all want to experience psychological safety in the workplace and have the opportunity for our opinions to be heard. If your employees trust that the organization and team have their back, they’ll be more willing to collaborate and pull together. This begins by walking your talk — address your employees’ concerns, lead “fireside” chats where your door is open to anyone from any level or send thoughtful and well-constructed emails that acknowledge the turmoil affecting your teams.