In my first post in this series I recommend “positive politics” as a successful approach to conflict (Leadership Gift Conflict Rule No. 1: Disagree More and Better). And that means working to discover, align and integrate interests.
When interests are aligned and integrated, teams and organizations perform at incredible levels.
A traditional response to perceived conflict — for example, when you and a peer each require the same resource in order to perform your duties, and it can’t be shared — is fear of loss.
Why? Because of a belief that there is not enough, people feel threatened, in this case, with losing the means to perform their duties.
This reaction often results in right/wrong thinking and win/lose behavior such as attack and withdrawal.
Frequently, the stress leads people to compromise quickly in order to get out of the conflict and avoid fearing any more loss.
Such compromise leads to rapid resolution, however it seldom produces aligned or integrated interests. It is negative politics at work, not positive politics.
So how do you nip the fear-response in the bud and create the conditions for successful resolution?
Easy: when conflict comes up, overcome your momentary fear reaction with the clear intention that you will win, and that you will allow the other person to also win.
At Partnerwerks we believe there is only one critical Leadership Gift question: How do I play win/win in a seemingly win/lose world?
One way to play win/win is to refuse to see the world as a win/lose place just because others do.
Think about it. The times that I have had the best experiences and outcomes from conflict were those when the people with whom I was conflicted acknowledged the conflict while demonstrating confidence in themselves and in me, treated me with honor and respect, and invited me to work together to a mutually satisfying resolution.
Here are a few Leadership Gift secrets for intending to win and allowing others to win:
1. Winning is different than not losing. Most people react to conflict with an intention to not lose, and that’s how they get into fear and negative politics. If you fear loss, then you are intending to not lose. To intend to win, you must give up the fear of losing.
2. Know what you want. You can’t win if you don’t.
3. Discover what the other wants, and more importantly, discover what they really need and help them get it. Remember, Napoleon always left his enemies a path of retreat.
4. No Wimping. Playing win/win is not about being nice. It’s about facing potential danger with courage, strength, resolve and interest.
Get Started With This 5-Minute Stretch
Reflect on a current or recent conflict of yours of any size or duration:
- What were your feelings upon recognizing the conflict?
- What beliefs were being reflected in those feelings?
- How have you behaved toward other parties in the conflict?
- What was your intention in the conflict and how could it be different?
Christopher Avery, PhD, is a recognized authority on how individual and shared responsibility works in the mind and an advisor to leaders worldwide.
Leaders and coaches: Get Christopher’s best team building and leadership strategies collected over two-plus decades of solving teamwork problems for smart people. Attend the acclaimed Creating Results-Based Teams workshop, or get this FREE Special Report while it lasts: The Five Flawless Steps to Building a Strong Executive Leadership Team.