Tag Archives: community

Common good doesn’t mean we all agree

conflictLeading for the common good isn’t peaceful. Agreement isn’t the goal. Paraphrasing writer Walter Lippmann, “when we all think alike, no one thinks very much.” To work together for the common good a leader needs to be prepared for conflict and embrace conflict.

Liane Davey, author of You First: Inspire Your Team to Grow Up, Get Along, and get Stuff Done, reminds us that for teams to be effective and work together they need to experience tension and disagreement, wrestle with it, push back, open up, share, listen and only then move forward. It’s not a quiet process and not what we often think of as good leadership. But think about the best teams you have worked on. Was it acceptable to have a different opinion? To raise a concern? Or to even get a little worked up about the problem you were addressing? I bet it was!

If you are willing to dive into the messiness of collaboration and conflict as a necessary element of moving towards a common good, Davey recently shared three ideas that leaders can use to help their teams embrace “productive conflict.”

  1. Define, discuss and understand the different roles and agendas of each person on the team. Take the time to ensure that everyone understands that each person has an  agenda based on their role and that each agenda is different. Not better or worse but different. And that it is normal for the different agendas to lead to conflict that is not personal but necessary to reach the best solution in the end. Make it OK to disagree based on their unique roles and responsibilities.
  2. Pay attention to style differences between team members. Use a tool or a facilitated discussion to clarify the different approaches team members use to learn, take in information, communicate, make decisions, or do tasks. Ensure that each style is described in a positive way and highlight the value that each style brings to the team. Finally, highlight how it is natural for conflict to arise due to style differences and that you expect people to leverage their styles to facilitate collaboration, even if it gets uncomfortable.
  3. Set ground rules on acceptable dissension. Have an open conversation and identify what behaviors lead to conflict that improves how the team functions and what behaviors actually destroy trust and teamwork. Describe what is acceptable and what is not acceptable and the process the team will use to hold each other accountable.

As nice as peace and calm can be, leadership is a lot messier and noisier – and that’s OK!

Todd Thorsgaard


How are we going to be when we gather together?

gather together“The key to creating or transforming community, then, is to see the power in the small but important elements of being with others.” – Peter Block, Community: The Structure of Belonging

In his groundbreaking book on building accountability and commitment for transforming organizations, communities, etc., Peter Block outlines the importance of how we demonstrate our care for the well-being of the whole, by how we choose to “be” with others.

When I think about the best, high-performing teams I’ve worked in over my career, they have common elements that reinforce Block’s assertions. Those teams accomplished great things, because they cared for the well-being of the whole, wanted to make a difference, demonstrated clear respect for each other and asked good questions that brought out the best in each other.

Building out those elements to teams of people who can help transform organizations, it then makes sense to focus on some good questions that Block poses:

  • How are we going to be when we gather together?
  • Whom do I choose to invite into the room?
  • What is the conversation that I engage in with people?
  • How do we create a communal structure that moves the action forward?

Transformation does not happen individually, it happens through building community in our organizations, through the strengthening of how we work together. And it starts with how we choose to be when we gather together.

Anita Rios