Why Strategic Executives Become Confrontational When Asking Practical Implementation Questions (and What You Can Do about It)?

Here’s what happened

The answer your CEO gave is a classic “fight, flight or freeze” response when someone feels threatened (or JDE Response — Justify, Defend, Explain as Ciaran Dunne puts it, VP at ARM).

What they should have done (but probably will never do)

If your CEO was a true leader who is self-aware and confident in their own abilities, they would have responded by saying: “this is a very good point and you are right, we have not considered fully the level of resources we’ll need to employ to deliver this on time. From your expertise of working with the technical teams, how much resource do you think you’ll need to deliver XYZ by 2020”?

What you can do about it next time so they don’t react with JDE (Justify, Defend, Explain)?

I hear leaders telling me they are frustrated that their teams don’t take ownership and fly with the strategy they created. Problem is they don’t present or encourage people to take ownership of the strategy, so people wait for the CEO to suggest next steps.

  1. “How are we going to deliver this project by this date?” becomes

What you can do about it after the meeting?

A couple of days later you go back to the CEO and say: “I have looked at the resources and this is what we can do with my resources.” They might say: “Y is more important to do than X.”



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Adelina Chalmers a.k.a The Geek Whisperer

Adelina Chalmers a.k.a The Geek Whisperer


Helps Engineers who are Leaders (CEO/ CTO/ VP) get buy-in from their peers/teams/investors by transforming Communication techniques into Algorithms