How Great Leaders Handle Arguing Followers


However strong leadership may be, fallout at some stage is inevitable.

As complex beings we all have different beliefs, motives and desires. This means that despite us often having the best intentions at the outset, disagreements and arguments can easily happen.

Arguments don’t necessarily mean that somebody has done something “wrong”. It just means that they have a different opinion. But over time, our opinions can become so ingrained and precious to us that they become our beliefs. And at that stage, anyone with a different opinion can feel like someone who challenges our very beliefs, which is how agreements start and how conflict can arise.

Whatever the cause may be, clearly effective leadership requires the ability to handle arguing followers in the right way. To ensure that arguments don’t result in full blown hatred and war. To make sure conflicts are handled sensitively and ideally even constructively to the team becoming even closer.

And although a hard-to-find and perhaps even underrated quality, in my experience the ability to do this is often what separates average leaders from the truly great ones.

Here are some ways how great leaders handle arguing followers.

They hear both sides out

Perhaps the worst thing that can cause irreparable damage to a leaders reputation is to be seen as taking sides unfairly.

Whether it’s favouring a friend, siding with the “easier” option or even sticking with the “old guard” just because they’ve served the company longer, most of us have felt discriminated against at some stage.

And although leadership often does require having to make tough decisions and ultimately deciding right from wrong, before making any decision, it’s essential to hear the full side of the story from all sides.

Not only does this allow a more comprehensive diagnosis of the matter in hand, but it also gives everyone an equal opportunity to be heard. It shows equal respect for all followers and makes clear that the leader is purely interested in making the right decision rather than simply taking sides unconditionally.

This creates a mutual respect from followers, that whatever happens they’ll be treated fairly.

Great leaders stay fair.

They allow time to cool

Our emotions are like the weather.

Things are often unpredictable, constantly changing and with inevitable highs and lows.

And just like the 4 seasons, particular emotions are highly useful in certain situations and equally destructive in others. Part of the key to living a successful life is recognising what emotion we are experiencing right now and what consequent actions should be followed or avoided.

It’s commonly said, perhaps one of the most important principles is never to make big decisions when angry on a “hot head”.

Great leaders understand that when arguments happen, often emotions are running high. Anger can cause irrational actions and judgement can become clouded. It’s easy to lash out and do things that we can regret upon reflection afterwards.

In ten years working with some of the highest achievers in business, I can say with confidence that one thing great leaders never do is make rushed decisions just because the pressure is on. In fact, often they take the opposite approach – they realise that in the heat of an argument, its easy to say the wrong thing and make irrational decisions.

By taking the time to cool down and look at things more realistically, it allows everyone to analyse the situation better and choose the best possible courses of action.

Making sure that calmness prevails over anger.

Great leaders stay calm.

They try to present options rather than give orders

As any parent will tell you, when disagreements happen, the last thing a frustrated little person wants to hear is to be told what to do.

Especially when it’s something opposite to what we wanted to do in the first place.

Its a trait that stays with us through life. Right from when we are all born, we’re all programmed to try and stay in control and make our own decisions. When someone tells us that we’re wrong it’s almost automatic for us to feel resentful and dig our heels in.

This can make leadership and giving helpful direction to others a challenge.

Thankfully, there’s a much more productive way.

Great leaders understand that especially in high pressure situations its much more powerful to present viable options rather than simply give orders. It allows team members to weigh things up and make up their own minds. To have a two-way discussion rather than simply being talked down to. To feel like they are having a key part in the decision making process instead of having to just follow orders.

Its a technique that creates a genuine consultative realtionship based on respect and trust.

Great leaders build trust.


Arguments are a part of life.

But hatred doesn’t have to be.

Great leaders understand that effective leadership doesn’t have to mean everyone agreeing all the time. But instead, having the rare ability to allow others to express themselves freely yet still ensuring that conflict and disagreement remains within the boundaries of mutual respect and consideration.

It’s an ability that can create a team that’s unbeatable.

How does your leader handle arguments?

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