Tell Me About a Time When You Had a Disagreement with a C Suite Colleague (Consultant/Board Member)

By Jeff Altman, The Big Game Hunter
Disagreements will occur among C suite professionals, just as they do at a staff level. How you resolve them is the focus of this question.

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Tell me about a situation where you didn’t get along with a C suite colleague, a board member, an external consultant. I’m Jeff Altman, The Big Game Hunter. I started to be called the Big Game Hunter. when I did search. I would hunt down leaders and staff for organizations. Now I coach people. People hire me for no BS career advice, which can relate to a job search, hiring more effectively, management, leadership, career transitions, dealing with workplace issues.

This is a common scenario because you have individuals with strong opinions. That’s one of the ways that they made it to the C suite. They were right far more often than they weren’t. Now, there’s always a story scenario that they’re fishing for. And, you know, we were talking about successes, and the traditional behavioral interview question at the staff level, there’s certain acronyms that are used. I’d rather avoid the acronyms and just start off by saying, ‘the idea is to keep your answer and story positive.’

There are two types of stories that you might want to construct–one where you were right, and one when you were wrong, and you owned up to it. Both are fine. And you’ll understand which ones to tell when you’re at the interview.

Now, to me, you always start off with the positive story, and then laugh and go, ‘and there was that time I was wrong,’ and then segue into the one where you’ve owned up to missing something. But it starts off with keeping things positive.

At the same time, defining what the situation was, who you were in conflict with, what each side saw, and thus, the desire to get this settled, so everyone could move forward because what’s most important isn’t the political intrigue. What’s most important is doing the right thing for the business.

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Thus, you describe the situation. And then from there, you talk about, ‘I met with different constituencies within the organization to test my thinking to make sure I was right with some of my assumptions. And from there, you know, once I did that, I figured out what needed to be accomplished. I presented it to my colleague, to the consultant, to the board member, and asked, ‘How do you see it. I want to make sure that I’m understanding your thinking correctly.’ And then from there, rather than go into attack mode, you ask questions that are direct but are presented in a way that’s not confrontational.

So they have their opinion. And then you can say, ‘had you consider this because when I spoke to so and so, they found that it had value?’ ‘Yeah, I did consider that but I didn’t think it was particularly important.’ Okay. And let me just simply say, ‘What am I not seeing that you are because you obviously have a particular perspective I’m not seeing, and I want to understand it and see at the end of our conversation, where we can come to a successful conclusion so that the organization can move ahead.

So ultimately, what you’re trying to do is get an agreement between the two parties, so that this way, what you’re able to do is come out with a conclusion that resolves the disagreement.

Again, describe the situation–that you met with the different constituencies, that you met with this board member, that you met with this C suite colleague, what conclusion came out of this? And how was it resolved, including the other person saying, “Could you see my side of this?’ ‘Sure, of course, I can.’ And, obviously, you know, we want to come in with the right decision for the organization. And I think it’s important that we come to an agreement, and thus you’re keeping it positive. You’re working at solutions, you’re keeping it out of the personal. And the goal is to make sure that the organization benefits, and this isn’t about politics.

Hope you found this helpful. I’m Jeff Altman. Visit my website, Go there and go exploring. There’s just a lot in the blog that will help you.

In addition, you can schedule time for a free discovery call or time for coaching. I’d love to help you. There’s also information about my courses, books, and guides. Good stuff there and of course, connect with me on Linkedin at

Have a terrific day and be great!

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Jeff Altman, The Big Game HunterJeff Altman, The Big Game Hunter is a coach who worked as a recruiter for what seems like one hundred years. His work involves career coaching, as well as executive job search coaching, job coaching, and interview coaching. He is the host of “No BS Job Search Advice Radio,” the #1 podcast in iTunes for job search with over 2400 episodes.

Are you interested in 1:1 coaching, interview coaching, advice about networking more effectively, how to negotiate your offer or leadership coaching? People hire me to provide No BS career advice whether that is about a job search, hiring better, leadership, management or support with a workplace issue. Schedule a discovery call at my website, 

My courses are available on my The courses include ones about Informational InterviewsInterviewing, final interview preparation, salary negotiation mistakes to avoidthe top 10 questions to prepare for on any job interview, and starting a new job.

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