Take An Inclusive Stand As A Leader
The concept of leadership is much debated, studied and practiced. Two leadership concepts that some times bump up against each other have leaders picking which model when a balanced approach would serve best. This week we’re working with servant leaders who need to take a stand in order for to get momentum going again.
It isn’t easy to switch leadership modes and at times even more difficult to realize a small adjustment is needed to keep a team functioning well. The careful balance means builind your capability enough that you can 1) recognize when a small, tactical style shift from you is needed, and 2) make the small leadership move as a contributor rather than either a domineering role or purely servant role.
To fine tune this leadership move, let’s get started with a mind-body connection foundation practice.
As we start out this week’s series, laying a solid mind-body connection is pretty important. Engaging in this free practice certainly sets the stage for more growth in your leadership capability since being a servant and taking a stand typically has an emotional connection for most people. That emotional connection is almost certainly felt in the body BEFORE you congnitively realize what is happening.
We’re going to use that body sense to set up the future questions this week and to aide in the final, free pactice for this series. As you watch the video on this mind-body practice there are 3 ideas of particular importance I discuss:
- Vary conditions to learn limits
- Explore the space
- Dial into your sweet spot
Putting these together into practice should raise your awareness and skill significantly over the next few weeks. Get started now by clicking here and downloading your FREE mind-body connection practice.
Let’s keep moving and develop this idea of balancing conflict and support. It takes quite a bit of experience, time and situations to begin to see that conflict is actually a neutral situation. It is all in how it is held in perception. We cannot control how others view it but we certainly are in charge of our own perception.
If we hold that conflict is something to be avoided, then we really have missed quite a lot of usefulness when it emerges. As we wade into this idea, perhaps for the first time for you, let’s look critically at 3 ideas so we aren’t niavely letting conflict run unchecked:
- Tension is an attracting force
- What’s keeping the separation?
- Varying the tension can teach a lot
As you take this in, utilizing the foundation practice will help you discern usable, healthy tension and conflict from the deterimental kind. How? Honestly, in large part the difference is dependent upon the extent of your development. This happens because of your interpretation of threat or opportunity for this type of thing starts in the body and goes pretty much unconscously toward a reaction. The more you can discern the difference and see more opportunity instead of threat, the more usuable these situations become.
If you’re trying out servant leadership as a style than you may have already encountered the challenging situation of handling conflict. Traditional command-and-control style leadership puts the onous of conflict resolution on the leader taking a position and then asserting their authority to resolve the conflict – a direct power play of hierarchical authority. This is where servant leadership gets tested in the real world early on for leaders and organizations.
This test can be difficult to handle well and stick with the spirit of servant leadership because it is easier to throw in the towel and revert to previous leadership styles. Once that happens, the previous momentum often takes over and servant leadership is laid to rest as another failed experiment.
This need not be the case. Your confidence and comfort within a conflict only will carry you so far. Gaining a different perspective with a servant leader mindset will make all the difference as to whether this provides growth for everyone or another exercise in hiearchical power.
I go over this, and more, in the video. Here are the 3 bid ideas we’re working with.
Intensity Is A Wake Up Call
Continuing along the line that conflict for many leaders is detected within the body, this is a signal we can use to engage differently. This draws upon the foundation practice we started with by using our bodily awareness as a signal to pay closer attention. Our tendancy is to click over to more primative or habitual routines. Intensity like that of conflict within the workplace is a sign to pay closer attention.
Once we are aware of the intensity we now engage our rational mind. We next determine if the intensity is happening for someone else (and we’re just witnessing it) or whether we feel the intensity. If we just see it with someone else, this is usually an easy move with a servant leader mindset as being a provider of help.
However, if you experience the conflict yourself, who’s your servant leader that will help you? If your organization is new to this, it is likely you are on your own…sorry to say. However, once you are aware of your experience of conflict you can now just pause a moment and recognize this is intensity seen as conflict and now pay attention.
Dissent Surfaces A Deep Joining
Now that you are aware of the intensity yourself surrounding a conflict or challenge, remember that dissent is a sign to resolve some deeper barrier. You needn’t look upon this as a “touchy-feely” thing either. Most leaders have had an experience where a team was tightly knit and worked well. Points of conflict are those times where a separation, a barrier, is now seen and can be worked through to bring more cohesion in the team.
The more these situations are worked through, the more capable the team will become. And as this happens, more gets done with less direction and very often the quality of work is much higher. Why? Without issues lurking in the background, people are not concerned with them nor are they protecting positions for their own illusion of job security.
Before leaving this concept, let’s quickly talk through those times when such assurances as job security are not part of the reality at work. These do not posses any less potency for servant leaders to build better teams and higher functioning organizations. Yes, underlying fear errodes capability of teams and individuals. Skilled servant leaders still embrace this dissent as an opportunity to serve. This mostly comes in the form of working directly with the fear of being not capable enough to keep a position or deeper still is the fear of not being able to find another job.
When the other shoe drops, like fear of being unemployed (or deeper still, becoming permanently unemployable), now you have something rational to work with and build a deeper foundation. This isn’t filling people with cotton candy, feel good mantras, but looking rationally at irrational fears that are weighing on everyone to some extent. THIS is a major breakthrough payoff for servant leaders that doesn’t happen in the command-and-control style of leadership. It builds everyone to a higher standard instead of vetting people out.
Be In Touch With Yourself To Recognize Tension
Let’s look a little harder with this final idea. Here you’ll need to be not just noticing that you’re affected by the conflict and tension. You also can venture beyond the intellectual idea that conflict is an opportunity to build you, another person and your team more. Here is where your self awareness comes in. Being in touch with your own tension and what’s driving the intensity for you will make you more capable of working with the situation with less filters. This also makes you more of service to others becomes they are receiving help more purely.
There is nothing wrong with you growing in lockstep with your team through conflict. The stronger you and your team are working through conflict, the more the lines blur for the better. As that builds over time, you looking more critically at what set off your tension is useful. The next step for you is finding out what fear is driving your tension and conflict. Once you’ve grasped that, now you’re ready to work through it with others and build something quite strong.
Once last thing before leaving this. This isn’t about “fake it ’till you make it.” It is a mistake to rush through this for show. Glossing over this thinking you need to provide leadership faster won’t help nearly as much as you taking time to focus on your internal process and rationally moving on. More and more leaders are straddling the servant leadership role with their old style. And here is where you internal work comes. This is also an area that is weakly supported by the organization (at best) and likely shunned as a value of external toughness is prized. Try and remember that transitions cause their own sets of tensions driven by deeper fears of not being a member of the safe group. When major changes call upon leaders to be different, leaders are inherently out on their own without the safety of the group. This is a major facet of being a leader so the more you get in touch with and comfortable being exposed and at risk in this way, the more you’re available to serve others because you’ve worked through what is probably the deepest fear this shift posses.
Still Feeling Around The Edges?
This is not easy work. It is also grossly misunderstood as it is relatively new. This is also more abstract; and as abstraction increases, so does the difficulty in grasping it but the payoff is larger. Here is where coaching can help bridge this faster and more successfully than trying to go it alone. This is also where a previous mindset momentum can make the transition take a lot longer than it has to. If you are looking at this and feeling a bit daunted, try coaching for 30 days, risk free, by clicking here. See what it can do for you in the next 30 days.
It is often noted in almost any employee survey as one of the top areas of improvement: communication. In this video I give you some ways to get clarity from your leader, especially when they are prehaps non-commital or it isn’t clear about their direction. Check out the video for more details on these 3 concepts:
- Express your need for them to take a stand
- Push for outcomes with timelines
- Connect assertion to concrete needs
Of most use in getting commitment is working with specifics. The more specific you can be with what you need, more clarity is compelled to come from the leader. This won’t produces clarity when there isn’t more information to be had, but it will help leaders own specifics and help them structure their thinking.
Every leader has a limit to the amount of conflict they can handle. Servant leadership can require a higher level of skill and maturity from a leader. When you experience a sense of stress around a conflict, it is possible you are at your edge. Engaging in this free practice for the next 2 weeks will help expand your comfort with conflict as a leader.
Often I hear that leaders need to “toughen up” to handle conflict. I respectfully diasgree. Relying on your inclusive, servant leadership skills during conflict just takes on a different look than most people are aware of. Download your free practice by clicking here and get started. This will pull the entire week into an action sequence and allow you to work with all of it in a fairly reasonable practice chunk.
All my best,
Russell Lindquist, Founder & Principal
Russell is a Certified Integral Professional Coach™. I help leaders and entrepreneurs break through plateaus, earn more respect and move on to their next level of success. 80% of my clients take on more responsibility with less stress, more success, and half of them get a promotion or earn more money within 6 months of completing their program. www.tessagen.com.