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Leading through Conflict. Presented by Barry L. Davis, MS, CTC, MCDP - Career Coach | Speaker | Blogger | Minister | Marathoner. Conflict is unavoidable. . . . actually necessary , even critical to success . . . a commitment to avoid conflict can be catastrophic. Conflict is unavoidable.

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Leading throughConflict

Presented by Barry L. Davis, MS, CTC, MCDP

- Career Coach | Speaker | Blogger | Minister | Marathoner

Conflict is unavoidable

. . . actually necessary, even criticalto success

. . . a commitment to avoid conflict can be catastrophic

Conflict is unavoidable

. . . actually necessary, even criticalto success

Bay of Pigs vs. Missiles of October

Role of President

Present at all meetings Deliberately absent at times

Role of Participants

Advocates for particular depts. Skeptical generalists

Group Norms

Defer to experts, protocol Minimize status/rank

Conflict is unavoidable

. . . actually necessary, even criticalto success

Bay of Pigs vs. Missiles of October

Involvement of Participants

Extreme secrecy, top level Direct contact, various levels

Use of Subgroups

One small group, autonomous Two subgroups, debating

Consideration of Alternatives

No competing plans Alternatives discussed

Institutionalized Dissent

No “Devil’s Advocates” Two assigned this “role”

Leading throughConflict

3 Basic Approaches . . .

The Demagogue

The Manager

The Mediator

Leading throughConflict

The Demagogue

  • Leads through fear, threats, intimidation

  • Turns opponents into scapegoats

  • Uses lies and propaganda to dehumanize the Other

  • Resorts to violence to dominate or destroy the Other

Leading throughConflict

The Manager

  • Operates on an exclusive, limited definition of “us”

  • Defines purpose in terms of the self-interest of own group

  • Cannot/will not deal with the issues, decisions or conflicts that cross boundaries

  • Is productive and effective only on home turf

Leading throughConflict

The Mediator

  • Strives to act on behalf of the whole, not just a part

  • Thinks systematically, committed to ongoing learning

  • Builds trust through bridges across dividing lines

  • Seeks innovation and opportunity to transform conflict

Mediating through Conflict – the 8 tools

1. Integral Vision

Committing ourselves to holding all sides of the conflict, in all their complexity, in our minds and hearts

  • Check your vision

  • Don’t swap boundaries

  • Watch your language

  • Visit the Balcony

  • Develop a mature mind

  • Learn to see through walls

Mediating through Conflict – the 8 tools

2. Systems Thinking

Identifying all (or as many as possible) of the significant elements related to the conflict and understanding the relationship between them

  • Keep it simple

  • Think systematically about your role

  • View from “outside of the box”

  • Ask, “And then what?”

  • Think twice before naming enemies

Mediating through Conflict – the 8 tools

3. Presence

Applying all our mental, emotional, and spiritual resources to witnessing ourselves and the conflict of which we are now a part

  • Find your own path

  • Practice presence, even in the face of fear

  • Become a reliable witness

  • Pay attention to energy

  • Clarify your motivation

  • Promote presence at meetings

  • Cultivate quiet presence

Mediating through Conflict – the 8 tools

4. Inquiry

Asking questions that unlock essential information about the conflict that is vital to understanding how to transform it

  • Make questions count

  • Interrogation is NOT inquiry

  • Lean questions toward the light

  • Don’t blame, listen more deeply

  • Practice especially with those you hate – and love

  • Take listening tests

  • Learn from Master Mediators

  • Listen especially to those who have no voice

Mediating through Conflict – the 8 tools

5. Conscious Conversation

Developing our awareness of the full range of choices about how we speak and listen

  • Go beyond Robert’s Rules

  • Set ground rules beforehand

  • Make rules owned by all

  • Let go of “winning” arguments

  • Replace abstractions with relationships

  • Leave your comfort zone

Mediating through Conflict – the 8 tools

6. Dialogue

Communicating in order to catalyze the human capacity for bridging and innovation

  • Seek the Ripple Effect

  • Uncover assumptions

  • Make hidden agendas visible

  • Equalize power relationships

  • When necessary, add action to dialogue

  • Rebuild trust when it runs low

  • Challenge arrogance with dialogue

  • Use respect to dissolve stereotypes

Mediating through Conflict – the 8 tools

7. Bridging

Building actual partnerships and alliances that cross the borders that divide an organization or community

  • Build bridges one step at a time

  • Bridge idealism and practicality

  • Build from the middle, not just from the top

  • Think like a minority

  • Raise the level of the game

  • Learn to bridge by doing it

  • Think webs, not walls

Mediating through Conflict – the 8 tools

8. Innovation

Catalyze social or entrepreneurial breakthroughs that foster new options for moving through conflicts

  • Don’t seek the limelight

  • Practice collaboration, don’t just preach it

  • Emphasis coleaders and teams, not individuals

  • Fix the process as well as the problem

  • Ensure fair rules

  • Learn to dance

Conflict– Affective vs. Constructive





established in advance


clarified for each individual involved


build mutually, considering cognitive styles


recast in a different light


present ideas, data in novel ways


basic facts and assumptions at impasses


evaluate process, learn


damaged relationships and hurt feelings


and celebrate successes

Leading throughConflict

Some excellent resources on the subject . . .

Leadership and Self-Deception

The Arbinger Institute, 2002

Leading Through Conflict: How Successful Leaders Transform Differences into Opportunities

Gerzon, Mark, Harvard Business School Press, 2006

Why Great Leaders Don’t Take Yes For An Answer

Roberto, Michael, A., Wharton School Publishing, 2005

The Wisdom of Crowds

Surowiecki, James, Doubleday, 2004

Barry L. Davis, MS, CTC, MCDP

Gift of Self Career Services, LLC - https://www.facebook.com/GiftofSelf

[email protected]



Blogs for the New Workplace: http://bdavismcdp.wordpress.com/

717.283.5760 cell