”Don’t win the argument at the cost of losing the war.”

The primary task of a strategic leader is creating the future. They do this by building a core team of managing leaders who know how to assemble a front line team of passionate, dedicated and cooperative value-givers that embrace the changes critical for that future.

In 1999, Proctor and Gamble’s new CEO, Durk Jager, highly regarded by many announced ”Organization 2005,” a restructuring program promising to bring sweeping changes to P&G’s everyday culture.

However, not everyone at P&G agreed those sweeping changes were needed or even the best way to achieve its goal of reducing investments in its core product line in order to create new products.

The organization rebelled and forced Jager to resign just 17 months after he assumed leadership. He won the initial argument but lost the war. The root cause of his failure was his inability to create a ”spirit of cooperation” across the board before implementing his sweeping changes.

This highly touted, super CEO, made a rookie mistake and paid for it with his job. To achieve broad cooperation, the first commandment of great leadership, require team leaders have a variety of tools in their leadership tool bag and know which tool to use, when and where.

The effectiveness of the tool you choose depends a lot on the organization’s culture, the experience and maturity of the leader and clarity about present reality on multiple levels.

You can use a variety of sticks and carrots to encourage cooperative changes. However, your success in getting positive and sustainable change is determined by your ability to read people, understand their perception of reality and the circumstances in which you are attempting change.

Making changes is like directing an orchestra. The more talented and motivated the musicians, the harder it is to keep them playing together and producing a final product that everyone enjoys. Even the best CEO’s have stumbled in their attempts to get people to “see the big picture” before the vision becomes a reality.

Do not let your ego cause you to win the argument, but lose your leadership ability to influence the outcome of the war. You cannot win if you are no longer in the game.