How To Survive Counter-Coalitions Against Your Ideas


image“It is easier to resist at the beginning than at the end.” — Leonardo da Vinci

Are you and your good ideas going to survive the inevitable counter-coalitions?

When it comes to implementing ideas, you will naturally face resistance.  The key is knowing how to deal with the counter-coalitions that spring up and create resistance against your ideas.

If you can learn how to deal with counter-coalitions you will improve your influence and improve your personal effectiveness at work.

In Get Them on Your Side, Samuel B. Bacharach shares insights on counter-coalitions and what to do about them.

You Need To Be Aware of Counter-Coalitions

You need to be aware of counter-coalitions.  You and your ideas can easily get derailed if you are not on the lookout and actively addressing counter-coalitions.
Bacharach writes:

“Effective coalition leadership isn’t only about getting the strategy and tactics right. There are two important dynamics that political competence demands: You have to be aware of counter-coalitions and the insularity within your own coalition.

Failure to be aware of counter-coalitions and of the tendency of coalitions to become insulated can derail the most effective leader. Failure to be aware of these two forces will guarantee that your coalition will be a short-term phenomenon, unable to get results over the long term.”

Know that Success Won’t Shield You

You would think that results should speak for themselves.  Sometimes they do, but in some political arenas they don’t.

Bacharach writes:

“It is inevitable that counter-coalitions will emerge. Leaders of counter-coalitions may believe that their agenda is superior to yours. You may think that over time others will come around to seeing things your way.

You might hope that as your agenda becomes successful, that success will shield you from criticism. The reality is that there are always critics and multiple perspectives on any issue. It is not a question of “if,” but of “when” a counter-coalition will emerge.”

Understand the Opposing Perspectives

One of the most powerful things you can do to improve your influence is to understand the opposing perspectives.

Use opposition to better understand any weaknesses or flaws in your effort.

Bacharach writes:

“Politically competent leaders recognize the inevitability of counter-coalitions. They understand that by building their coalition, a counterforce will likely surface. In other words, the very success of your effort, could, in fact, make you more vulnerable to challenging counterforces.

Your responsibility is to recognize the existence of counter-coalitions. You need to understand the opposing perspectives, rather than brush them off as inconsequential, and leverage the strength of your coalition to preempt any efforts to derail your agenda.”

Monitor and Assess Counter-Coalitions

Stay on top of the counter-coalitions and assess their strength so that you don’t get surprised, and so that you can nip things in the bud.

Bacharach writes:

“Preparing for and responding to counter-coalitions is easier said than done. Counter-coalitions will emerge and their potential power is easy to underestimate. More often than not, you will dismiss their potency until it is too late.

You need to have people out there, monitoring dissenting activity. You need to interpret activity of counter-coalitions, understand their arguments, and assess their strength — and their potential strength.”

Key Take Aways

Here are my key take aways:

  • Assume counter-coalitions happen. If you assume otherwise, you’ll be flying blind.
  • Embrace counter-coalitions as an integral part of the leadership landscape. This helps you prepare for the worst, while you hope for the best.
  • Maintain a strong vantage point. A strong vantage point comes from having a wide span of awareness and considering multiple perspectives.

If you take a proactive approach to counter-coalitions, you can greatly improve the success of your ideas and avoid getting derailed in unexpected ways.

You Might Also Like

The Politically Competent Leader, The Political Analyst, and the Consensus Builder

Putting Good Ideas in Place

Political Competence