All leaders have to manage conflict in their organizations. I’ve distilled some key points that you can apply immediately from Mark Gerzon’s Leading Through Conflict: How Successful Leaders Transform Differences into Opportunities. Hope you find this helpful.
How to Solve Tough Challenges that Threaten Your Organization
We at Alternative Resolutions have spent many years working with businesses, non-profits, professional associations and educational institutions helping them turn conflict into consensus. Whatever the specific issue, it is clear that when conflicts are not remediated, the outcomes the organization works tirelessly to achieve are at risk.
There are ways that leadership can reduce challenges before they rise to the level of critical conflicts. I endorse Mark Gerzon’s premise, in Leading Through Conflict: How Successful Leaders Transform Differences into Opportunities[i], that great leaders need to bring the skills and characteristics of a mediator to solve these tough organizational challenges.
The Leader as Mediator
Leaders who adopt the Leader as Mediator model work hard to exhibit these behaviors:
Counterproductive Leadership Styles
Gerzon describes two leadership styles that are severely counterproductive to resolving tough organizational challenges. We often encounter these in our mediation and conflict resolution work.
The Demagogue: This individual leads through fear, threats and intimidation. This leader disdains the very idea of transforming conflict into positive change.
The Manager: This leader solves problems in a top down manner and makes decisions unilaterally. They focus on the group they manage so tend to get territorial.
Do some people in your organization exhibit these behaviors? You’d be well-served by providing training or one-to-one coaching to move them closer to the Mediator leadership model.
The sooner an organization addresses its tough challenges, the sooner it returns to full productivity and focus on its mission and outcomes.
We recommend these five steps to determine how well your organization’s leaders are following the Leader as Mediator model.
We have always seen conflicts as opportunities to strengthen an organization. As Warren Bennis has written “We need leaders who will take on conflict courageously and resolve it.”
We urge you to take the courageous steps needed at your organization to recognize and resolve conflicts to clear the path towards the highest realization of your goals.
Ellen F. Kandell is a certified professional mediator and attorney with over 30 years of public and private sector experience. An expert in dispute resolution and mediation, Ms. Kandell is certified by the International Mediation Institute. She has been a leader in the Montgomery County Bar Association and the Maryland Council for Dispute Resolution. She provides mediation services, group facilitation, neutral evaluation and training to diverse, national clients. Get in touch with her via email, LinkedIn, Twitter, or give her a call at 301-588-5390.