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Guest contributor Tom Fox, of the Partnership for Public Service, writes weekly about issues in the federal workplace.

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Lillian Cunningham

Lillian Cunningham is the editor of On Leadership and writes features for the section.

Susan Peters

Susan Peters is the vice president of executive development and the chief learning officer at GE.
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When temporary criticism is worth it

Question: As the Senate’s “Gang of Six” struggle to come to agreement on a bipartisan budget plan, they are under intense social pressure from their caucus colleagues to abandon the effort and stick with the party line. In a clubby place like the Senate, social ostracism can be a real concern. From your experience, what role does social pressure on leaders play in their decision-making and how should leaders deal with it?

For today's leaders, navigating social pressures is just as challenging in business as it is in politics. Good leaders understand the delicate balance of handling pressure from colleagues while weighing on their own how their decisions affect stakeholders. Strategic decisions that are best for employees, shareholders, customers or the long-term success of an organization are worth temporary criticism if they produce long-term benefits.

In situations of immense social pressure, leaders must step-back, gain clarity of focus and stay true to their underlying values. Those that maintain the status quo are rarely applauded for their leadership; great leaders are recognized for their courage and conviction in taking a stand--even when it means challenging their peers.

View all panel responses to the discussion Under pressure?

Susan Peters  | Apr 26, 2011 12:54 PM

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