“That’s crazy,” “I could never do it that way,” You’re wrong,” “No, listen to me!”
Are you hearing statements like these at work? When new ideas are introduced are you seeing battle lines drawn? How do you lead for the common good when it seems like your people have completely different goals in mind?
Well, not to ignore how hard it is but the place to start is with dialogue. Which means helping people actually listen to each other, even if they disagree with what the other person is saying. Your goal is to help people move from:
- persuading or telling
- focusing on differences
- talking at each other
All of which lead to frustration, lack of trust and either/or thinking.
And move to:
- talking with each other
- looking at options
That requires finding some sort of common or shared interests as a starting point for dialogue. Instead of focusing on the dangers of the other point of view and highlighting the positive of their own point of view, help people work on specific issues by looking deeper and identifying underlying values, goals, and concerns that both sides share.
We encourage the leaders we work with to ask these two straightforward questions to build trust and identify shared interests.
- What do we all want?
- We do we all fear or want to avoid?
It will take work to keep people from focusing on their initial points of view and look at the bigger picture, but facilitating this conversation will help you and your people find a common good you can all agree on, and that is a great starting point!
Posted in building teams, common good, communication, goals, polarities, trust
Tagged communication, culture, ego, innovation, purpose, transparency, vision
Leading 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.”
- 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.
- 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.
- 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!
Posted in building teams, communication, Diversity, leading authentically, organizational culture, polarities, racial tension, self awareness
Tagged communication, community, culture, ego, Leadership, performance, self-awareness, stress, transparency
“I look for three things in hiring people. The first is personal integrity, the second is intelligence, and the third is a high energy level. But, if you don’t have the first, the other two will kill you” – Warren Buffet
In December 2008, Bernie Madoff admitted to a multi-billion dollar Ponzi scheme that sent him to prison for 150 years. Last week, like lots of other TV viewers, my husband and I watched the two-part series documenting Madoff’s fraudulent business practices. It provided lots of food for conversation about sociopathic behavior and yes, a lack of integrity in leadership. While Madoff provides an extreme example of someone lacking integrity, leaders can easily derail their careers when they fail to maintain their integrity. And it can be something as simple as letting your ego grow as you experience more success in your career.
So, how can leaders avoid derailment? Nancy Reece, senior consultant and speaker with The Human Capital Group, outlines seven keys for men and women who want to maintain integrity as they lead.
- Identify your core values. Ask yourself what matters most in your life? Write down each of those values in your own terms then prioritize them. It’s easy to get off course and derail if we don’t have a moral compass for our leadership.
- Identify your Achilles’ heel. Everyone has a weakness. For Bernie Madoff, his weakness was power. Being raised in a poor Jewish community, he never wanted anyone to feel sorry for him, ever again. Identify your weakness, or the spot where there is a chink in your armor. Write it down in black and white and acknowledge your vulnerability.
- Play “what if.” Once you’ve identified your Achilles’ heel, imagine what would happen if you got caught. What would you say to your family? What would the headline in tomorrow’s paper be? A well-thought-out session of “what if ” can make real the potential consequences of falling prey to a lack of integrity.
- Enable “ketchup conversations.” Suppose you go out to lunch, eat a hamburger and get ketchup on your chin. You then go to meet with your direct reports in the afternoon. When you arrive home and walk through the door, your spouse says, “You have ketchup on your chin.” Your first thought is: “Why didn’t anyone tell me?” The better question for leaders to ask is this: “Did I create a safe space for someone to tell me?”
- Have courageous friends. Real friends have the guts and the courage to get in your face when they see you doing something wrong. Real friends are ones you can share your Achilles’ heel with. They will challenge you, encourage you, and be honest with you. Courageous friends can help you maintain your integrity only if you are open and honest with them about your struggles, your weaknesses and your ego. They’ll let you know when you have ketchup on your face.
- Identify and counteract stress. Leading involves constant challenges that can cause stress. The more stress we’re under, the easier it is to fall prey to your Achille’s heel. Being able to identify when you are experiencing stress and acknowledging that you are more vulnerable during this time builds protective barriers that will enable you to lead with integrity.
- Become an integrity fanatic. Be passionate about doing the right thing. When you make a poor choice, don’t cover it up or put image first. Admit your mistake and make it right.
Which of the seven keys resonates most with you? Where might you want to focus your efforts to ensure that you are maintaining your integrity?