The Leadership Value of having a “We Will Agree” mindset

The Leadership Value of having a “We Will Agree” mindset

One of the key competencies of an effective leader is the ability to negotiate, influence others and manage conflict. Achieving success in such negotiations, however, can be difficult, as multiple barriers often get in the way. How a leader navigates these barriers will, in many cases, determine the outcome.

Many years ago, while working on resolving labor disputes, I had the good fortune of meeting a management attorney during negotiations that were particularly challenging. The union leader involved in the dispute happened to be very difficult to work with, throwing up obstacles, grandstanding and, in general, slowing down the process, thus avoiding or at least trying not to effectively address the issues at hand. Negotiators who had previously dealt with him would come away frustrated and unable to get him to focus on resolving issues. This attorney, however, took a different approach. Rather than get frustrated or emotional as others had, his approach was from the beginning based on the mindset of “We Will Agree”.
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Managing Organizational Conflict

executive coaching to manage organizational conflictYou can’t really resolve organizational conflict until you find the underlying root cause or driving force behind the conflict.  Conflict can be much more than disagreement on the substance of an issue, and gaining expedient surface resolution may not allow conflicting parties to do the hard work to reach true resolution.  So the conflict will come up again (and again) in new permutations.

To address the root cause of a conflict, those engaged almost need to have an out-of-body experience, e.g. imagine they are in a helicopter looking down on the parties in dispute.  This will provide a new frame of reference and trigger a more receptive state of mind to ask and answer questions like:

  • Where do we agree vs. disagree, and how can we build on areas of agreement?
  • Regarding areas of disagreement, what has been the history that has led to this situation, and how can we objectively learn from the past without pointing fingers?
  • If you were called in to facilitate a discussion between these parties, how would you try to understand each point of view, and what insight would that give you?
  • What will it take for each party to begin to bury the past and focus on building a collaborative partnership?
  • What would a collaborative relationship look like?
  • What kind of thinking is needed to meet everyone’s needs and begin the process of establishing greater trust?