Leaders say they want to boost creativity, critical thinking and agility to improve performance and manage change. Research studies confirm the accuracy of those statements. Who wouldn’t want their staff to be quick on their feet, display ingenuity, offer critical insights, or make effective strategic choices? However, there is no consensus on how to boost agile thinking or increase brain capacity beyond the standard 10% utilization. Read More
The road to the C-suite is littered with well-meaning, well-qualified workers who never quite get there. So what is the difference-maker?
Executive coach and consultant Dr. Mary Lippitt has worked with hundreds of leaders, from Fortune 500 executives to top Pentagon officials, and she’s conducted research on thousands of people to study how they make choices.Read More
Conflict Stages Impact Successful Group Decision Making
Recently, I resigned from a volunteer Board of Directors due to protracted and unproductive conflict. The Board suffered from heated verbal exchanges and deep-rooted personality conflicts, which diverted energy and stymied decision making. This experience seems all too common among groups. The American Management Association sponsored research, reported that middle managers spent 20% of their time resolving conflict while executives spent 18% of their time dealing with conflict. The AMA defined conflict as a breakdown in decision making mechanisms.
This situation extends beyond volunteer Boards of Directors. All types of executive and leadership teams experience conflict that leads to inept decision making practices. Whether it is repeatedly rehashing a past decision, keeping an issue “under consideration” for prolonged periods, withholding information, or permitting cliques to form the result is often ineffective communication and action. These dysfunctional behaviors can stem from a conviction that divergent views originate from personal agendas or self-serving intentions.
This personal lens blurs objective analysis that would make conflicts easier to resolve. Professional experience, including different educational backgrounds, typically produces distinctive conclusions on the best course of action. When unique ideas are first examined through a rational lens, creative resolutions are revealed and collaboration is enhanced. A focus on content encourages exploration for common ground, while personal stereotypes inhibit consensus.
Stages of Conflict
We all recognize that conflict can be constructive, as well as destructive. Initially, conflict can generate benefits, but in later stages a negative spiral can result. These stages can be depicted as moving from rational examination of content into personal labels. The following depicts the progression in the stages of conflict:
During the first two stages of conflict, difference over ideas and goals, innovative proposals and initiative can emerge. In these instances, differences are viewed as productive brainstorming and as steps to discovering new alternatives. Starting with an objective analysis of the idea produces better solutions, improves teamwork and reduces time required to make decisions. However, when conflict is attributed to personality or values, the likelihood of a promising outcome fades and the issue becomes a matter of who wins and who loses. In these situations, positions harden and creative problem solving vanishes.
The illustration above reflects the increasing breadth and depth of conviction when issues are viewed personally. Like the iceberg that the chart resembles, what is below the surface is the most dangerous. Just like the Titanic on its mad dash to establish a world record for an Atlantic crossing, when we jump into making characterizations we lose.
My decision to resign from the Board grew from personal conflicts, which are hard to repair. Perceptions, rather than thoughtful analysis, drove the board’s actions. People did not have the opportunity to “make their case” as accusations of hidden agendas, attempts to settle scores, the use of power plays, and rampant insecurity replaced fair consideration of ideas. The Board’s effectiveness suffered as many of its members elected to view conflict from a personal lens.
If you currently serve on a team, remind your team that divergent views are a constructive step toward excellence. The benefit may not be more effectiveness, but you will avoid wasting your time in unproductive exchanges—and retain your membership.
Also published on May 5, 2015 at http://bizcatalyst360.com/conflict-stages-impact-successful-group-decision-making/
The childhood fairy tale of Jack and the Beanstalk leads us to believe that it is possible to toss out a handful of magic seeds and instantly garner overnight success. Leaders trying to implement a culture change within their organizations may mistakenly believe this same kind of “magic” is possible. Unfortunately, organizational change through cultivating a culture of engagement requires more deliberate actions over a longer period of time. Past cultural transformational efforts, such as six sigma practices, visionary transformations, or various other change efforts, proves the case. Depending on the research study, the success rate of these change efforts varies between 9% and 30%. Even the high end findings are not very encouraging. It is clear that wishing for change and implementing it are very different.Read More
Telling, Selling, Tracking and Engaging
It is fair to say that the adage “the more things change, the more they stay the same” does not apply to leadership. The trends in leadership practices has actually been shifting significantly; from leaders assuming the sole decision-making role based on the premise that front line workers lacked business acumen, to leaders relying on their talented workforce for innovation and insights. Given the number of theories, the amount of jargon, and marketplace challenges, this shift has been a rocky one.Read More
You are probably familiar with the saying “there is no substitute for experience” and perhaps can even attest to its accuracy. Over the past several weeks we have redefined power and explored the new and popular Systems Power lever. As the title alludes, this week I am delving into Mastery Power. That is, the power stemming from experience, training and education. In a recent study on power practices, the power of expertise ranked high – it was the third most cited. Not surprising, as it is a key contributor to organization success, it warrants attention and support.Read More
Archimedes was on the right track when he said many years ago, “Give me a lever long enough and a fulcrum on which to place it, and I shall move the world.” Selecting the right lever for the situation is something a successful leader does, if not by second nature, by learning. There are many different power levers – some too unwieldy and some too weak. Finding the right one for the situation requires analysis.Read More