Archive for July, 2012
Posted on July 23rd, 2012 by admin Comments Off
John Reid continues his description of the 8 Faces of Leadership, focusing on leaders as change and conflict managers.
In The Reid Group, we believe several things about conflict: 1) Conflict is as natural as breathing and is positive when well-managed but negative when poorly-managed; 2) Not all conflicts can be resolved but all conflicts can be managed well.
Some keys to managing conflict well:
- Practice deep listening–to your own needs in the conflict as well as the needs of the other.
- Focus on the positions held by the parties involved rather than the person or your past history.
- Look for the “third way” or common ground.
- Move from certainty to curiosity and from blame to contribution regarding the conflict.
- Seek a win-win outcome or a viable option for settling the conflict that all parties can live with.
Here is one formula for managing conflict:
Ventilate–acknowledge the feelings involved (fear, anger, sadness)
Differentiate–identify the specific issues to address and focus on the appropriate ones
Integrate–draw from the wisdom of all parties to craft a solution acceptable to everyone
Those leaders that can act as effective conflict managers make positive contributions to their organizations.
Dealing with change is never easy. When it is managed well by leaders, change can allow for greater morale among the organization’s members, an increased focus on its mission and values, and brings unity in the face of diversity.
A proven approach to successful change management involves Seeing, Naming, and Acting:
Seeing requires seeing clearly what changes are envisioned in the short- and mid-term future so that everyone can join together and focus on the challenges at hand.
Naming demands the ability to articulate the “why behind the what” and involves a clear and concise rationale and listing of the benefits the changes will bring. No one wants change for change’s sake, but most people can appreciate a change with many benefits even if there will be some drawbacks.
Acting requires implementing the changes in sensitive and helpful ways so that those affected can say goodbye to what is ending, to ritualize their sense of loss or grief, and to welcome new beginnings.
Effective leaders in changing times work to unite organizations in the midst of change, lessen resistance to change by deep listening, and encourage those affected to act together in ways that strengthen the organization and focus on the future. We believe leaders serve organizations well when they focus on creative and effective conflict and change management.
Posted on July 2nd, 2012 by admin Comments Off
Where two or three are gathered together—there will conflict be also.
Whenever people get together—for a work group meeting, a holiday party or a family reunion—there is always the possibility of conflict. There is also, however, the opportunity of creative conflict management leading to more peaceful interaction and positive collaboration.
Too often, the individuals involved don’t know how to address any conflicts or what to do to alleviate tension. This was the case recently for a client of mine.
This was a committee charged with making recommendations for the future direction of its organization. Members of the committee were appointed as representatives of various departments in the organization. At a point somewhat late in the process, one of the committee members had to step down and his department assigned Frank, another staff member, to take his place.
At the next meeting, Frank was introduced by Lacy, another committee member from Frank’s department. The committee chair, Amy, told Frank that according to the ground rules of the committee, he should just listen at this first meeting and not make any comments. Lacy objected, saying that was an exaggeration of the ground rules. Amy responded that she was the chair and responsible for ensuring the committee could do its work as smoothly and efficiently as possible.
Frank’s fellow department staff members on the committee felt that Amy disrespected Frank and the process by her assertion of authority. Amy and other committee members found Lacy’s objections to be disruptive and obstructive of the committee’s work.
I was the consultant working with this organization on their planning process. Lacy took her concerns to the CEO who suggested that I act as an independent facilitator and convene a meeting between Lacy and Amy as well as a couple of the other members of the committee.
In preparation for the meeting, I asked each participant to send me their responses to these questions:
- What are your hoped-for outcomes for the meeting?
- What are the issues?
- Is there anything else the facilitator should know?
- Is there anything else you would like to say?
As the meeting began, we reviewed everyone’s responses to the pre-meeting questionnaire and established ground rules for the discussion:
- Speak to “the heart of the matter” and listen well.
- Use I statements not you or blaming statements.
- Focus on the key issues without personal attacks.
- Be curious and remain open to new insights and learnings.
- Conflict with respect and negotiate in good faith.
- Maintain confidentiality.
The presence of two other committee members had a calming influence on the discussion as the parties shared with each other what they had experienced and how they had reacted.
All parties present expressed appreciation for the process and the presence of an independent facilitator. While Lacy and Amy were never going to march arm-in-arm singing “Kum Bah Yah,” they did have a subsequent meeting where they could continue their discussion and find better ways to work together.
Sometimes the practice of peacebuilding is as simple as clarifying assumptions and establishing clear communication. It’s easy to get locked into a reactive mode and respond to the other with defensiveness and animosity. It’s important to examine your own “hot buttons” and put the brakes on an impulse to hit back. This practice of moving toward peaceful collaboration is made possible by bringing people together in a setting where they can set aside their assumptions and review the issues and what happened.
The mediator in this situation is trying to build the capacity for all members of the group to embrace an understanding that “we are all in this together.” This is the approach we use at The Reid Group and we have found that this role of independent facilitator is an important component of any group’s ability to work collaboratively while reducing tension and unproductive energy.
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