The car was spinning its wheels and not getting anywhere.  It is Spring where I live in Western New York, or as some people call it “mud season.”  The unfortunate car parked a bit off-road and found its tires mired in some mud.  Pushing on the gas pedal had no effect other than splashing mud all about.  The car tires were not getting enough traction to make any progress.

Last week I was working with a team that was suffering the same fate.  Two of the members, in spite of both speaking English, were not able to communicate with each other. They pushed on the gas pedal hard.  They both kept talking louder and faster and all that happened was mud getting flung everywhere.  Lots of energy but no progress.  Their tires were not engaged with the road.

They just needed the right push. I jumped in to help push them in the right direction. I pointed them to their shared mutual goals.  I reminded them that that they were from very different backgrounds that gave them different perspectives.  Soon they were pushing the gas pedal hard again, both talking loud and fast.  There was still heat being generated, but now there was rapid progress.

The same thing happened with the car.  It just needed the right push in the right direction and soon the car sped away.  It was making great progress towards the driver’s goals.

Friction should not be avoided. As leaders, we must watch for the mud — and make sure the arguments stay engaged with the road toward your goals.