Tag Archives: culture

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

Culture eats strategy

“The task of the leader is to get his people from where they are to where they have not been.”   — Henry Kissinger

For change leaders, this quote from Kissinger rings true. But what gets in the way of getting people to move from the current state to a desired future state where they have not been before? Sometimes, it can be the very culture of the organization that gets in the way. Those organizational values that are held dear: like academic freedom or autonomy might be threatened. Or it can just be just the “way we get things done around here” that pose an obstacle and create resistance.

In fact, Peter Drucker once said that “culture eats strategy for breakfast.” In other words, even the most elegant strategies will fail if a leader is not paying attention to the organization’s culture, those behaviors, attitudes, and values that are enacted each and every day. When assessing both current and future states, it is very helpful to add a culture assessment to your toolkit. Here is a one-page culture assessment, adapted by Dan Olson for the Star Collaborative from The New Leader’s 100-day Action Plan: An On-Boarding Process for Leaders at Every Level.

Cultural assessment4

  1. Identify the new desired culture you are trying to create
  2. Evaluate the current culture (behaviors, attitudes, values)
  3. Detail what changes need to be made to move from current to new
  4. Identify key individuals’ roles in change (block it, watch it, help it, make it happen)
  5. Determine effective ways to move stakeholders to appropriate level of support
  6. Detail what changes need to be made to move from current to new

Anita Rios