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  • Writer's pictureMark O'Neil

BLOG #7: 10 "C's" of Great Leadership- Collaborative/Collegial.

Updated: Apr 16

In my last Blog, i stressed the importance of COMPETENCE AND CONFIDENCE and how it was very important to strike a balance between the two. I postulated that too much confidence in one's level of competence is very easily seen by those who are following the leader. It can be destructive. Conversely, lacking confidence in what we know can decrease leadership effectiveness and not result in the best decisions.

So it is important that we know where we stand on the continuum:

  • UNCONSCIOUS INCOMPETENCE- we don't know what we don't know.

  • CONSCIOUS INCOMPETENCE- we know what we don't know, and focus on improving our level of competence.

  • UNCONSCIOUS COMPETENCE- we are beginning to really "get it" but are not quite sure yet.

  • CONSCIOUS COMPETENCE- We are there! We have a great skill and are comfortable in exercising it WHILE continually working to improve on it.

It doesn't matter where we fall on this continuum and it will vary depending on the skill set. It only matters that we recognize the differences and attempt to adjust our confidence accordingly. Humility is always safest. This is not a place where "fake it until you make it "plays well.

Let's now focus on another two characteristics where the synergy between the two is important: Being COLLEGIAL AND COLLABORATIVE. A great leader is both. It is also relatively easy to be both. That is, when things are going well and there is no conflict. However, some conflict is almost always present in a group that thinks as individuals, but acts as a team and where complex issues are being addressed. My view is that it is very healthy to have a reasonable amount of conflict within a team.

To be good at both then, it is essential to be good at conflict management. It is at the intersection of collegiality and collaboration.

In one of Harvard Business Reviews' "Guide to" Publications, Dealing with Conflict, by Amy Gallo, the topic of managing conflict is well researched and presented. She suggests a context for labeling the type of conflict with which you are dealing (relationship, task, process or status), and the steps to follow to address and resolve a conflict.

Another very helpful educational tool for conflict management is found in The GREAT COURSES catalogue published by Audiobooks, entitled The Art of Conflict Management, taught by Michael Dues. This is a set of 24 lectures in a classroom format covering several aspects of conflict management, with exercises and examples with each lesson. This is a wonderful way to review (or learn) such concepts as Morton Deutsch' concept of win-win, the concept of power and when to use it and when not to, how to listen when in a conflict situation and several helpful ways to deal with conflict without doing damage to relationships.

According to Dues, there are five elements of a conflict that are nearly always present:

  1. Interdependence between the individuals holding the conflict and the resulting behavior of one has an effect on the other.

  2. There is a difference that the parties are unhappy over.

  3. The potential solutions are in opposition to each other.

  4. The conflict is expressed by one party or the other. Left unexpressed, the conflict is avoided or worse, it is avoided and left to fester.

  5. Emotion (anger, hurt) It is hard to have conflict without emotion. It is also hard to have emotion without recognizing and controlling it.

So in managing conflict, it is also important to take into account what Dues calls the four awful truths. There can be some hurt in confronting conflict, along with risks and cost to relationships. There is the possibility of damage when a dysfunctional strategy is used by either party in managing conflict and this can be irreversible.

With the above in mind, like so many other attributes of leadership, preparation is key.

Recognize the conflict, define it's type (relationship, task, process or status). Know your style and approach to conflict. Know as much about the other party's style of conflict management. Stay away from relationship conflict by focussing on the task at hand.

What do you want and what is the best way to get it? What is the other party looking for? Choose the right time and place to address the conflict and prepare your approach in advance. Don't "wing it"! Keep your emotions in check and be prepared to compromise.

SOUNDS SIMPLE....... DOESN'T IT? Where are you on the continuum of knowing how to manage conflict?

For more answers, schedule a complimentary discussion with me. Might executive coaching be for you?

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