Unless both sides win, no agreement can be permanent.– Jimmy Carter
Leaders set up problems in many ways. One clear way we set up conflict in teams is by assuming that everyone knows what you want and you know what they want. There is a personal satisfaction factor in working together. When we don’t clearly define our overall expectations with the position description and overall satisfaction, we create conflict.
We have conflict in every group. In fact, conflict is a sign of energy and creativity. We never solve conflict. We manage conflict. We principally manage conflict by managing ourselves. It’s the leader’s duty to approach conflict calmly and directly, addressing the facts and engaging the other person or persons in dialogue about the differences in expectations and involving them in problem solving. Failures are then a learning opportunity. Our job as leaders is to address the issues directly and promptly. I’ll talk more about this in the next session.
Much of the conflict arises in groups due to the lack of a clear understanding by everyone of what’s expected. I learned about creating agreements from the “Revolutionary Attorney” Stewart Levine. He’s the expert in creating mutually beneficial agreements. There are 10 steps in his model for creating agreements. They can be found in his book, The Book of Agreement: 10 Essential Elements for Getting the Results You Want.
In this book, Stewart teaches you how to create agreements that keep conflict at a minimum and making conflict manageable when it does happen. We have conflict. We manage conflict. Being a leader means you deal with it.
Stewart’s agreement format ensures that everyone is on the same page, so to speak. After we discuss all the points 1-9 and we arrive at point 10, Agreement, then we know we all are in alignment and we have an agreement.
Here are the elements for agreement:
Intent and Vision
Measurements of Satisfaction
Concerns and Fears
As you see, there are topics on his list that most leaders never consider exploring. Having a direct conversation with a partner, employee, or board member is a discovery process and a clarification process. It’s the leader’s job to listen with eyes and ears, and to listen for intent in addition to content. Skipping this step sets up unnecessary conflict.
Lead from the front and not from the back, trying to catch up when you didn’t cover what’s important and needed for healthy group process.