Category: Critical Conversations

disagreements leadership obstacles

Disagreements – Overcoming Leadership Obstacles…

Disagreements, obstacles, challenges, difficult personalities, situations of conflict and ensuing crucial conversations are all inevitable in professional life.

What marks out true leadership is the ability to cope with these potentially stressful situations effectively whilst retaining a sense of clarity and calmness. In other words, HOW you deal with a given situation illuminates how effective a leader you are.

Fight or Flight

Often in situations of conflict we, out of a primal sense of fight or flight, adopt a combat mentality where we strive to “win” and so become entrenched in a particular position in disagreements. In doing so, listening without prejudice goes out the window and everything that is said or done by our “opponent” is a provocation to be anticipated, blocked, thwarted and defeated. Both parties move away from a safety zone where each can express themselves freely. Instead we either move towards violence by labelling, attacking and controlling behaviours or we move towards silence by avoiding, withdrawing and masking behaviours.

The art of skillful mediation in order to overcome these situations is to accept that at the heart of any conflict are emotions borne out of being human.

Authentic Leadership

A true leader can take time out, readjust and then re-establish a conversation by stating what they really want and why it matters. The heightened emotions may still be present – we claim to want passionate not ambivalent leaders after all – but somehow more focused on the desired outcome as opposed to the battle of wills and disagreements that took place earlier.

And that doesn’t necessarily mean having to come up with all the answers in a flash of genius. It could mean saying “I realise that I don’t fully understand how you see this problem.” That would likely move the conversation back into a safe zone where differing perspectives and stories can be shared. That is the beginning of understanding, the route to solving any disagreements and it is also the mark of a leader.

Sartaj Garewal is the founder of Dynamic Presenting – a creative, leadership development consultancy, adapting theatre training to create leadership programs for business.

Dynamic Presenting – Enabling Powerful Communication

empathy leadership awareness

Empathy – Towards Empathic Leadership

What is empathy? If you think it’s lightweight, airy fairy, post-modern self-help delusion, then check out this short animation from Jeremy Rifkin and the Royal Society of Arts. Could just be that we are all soft-wired for empathy and that it evolved as more of a pragmatic behaviour. If we embrace this notion, there could be a multitude of ramifications for how we live and work.

http://www.thersa.org/events/rsaanimate/animate/rsa-animate-the-empathic-civilisation

Survival of the most Empathic

Empathy is the lubrication that maintains strong relationships and allows us to build trust with others both personally and professionally. Putting ourselves in someone else’s shoes and seeing something as the other guy does are invaluable survival techniques. When a child sees an adult obviously in a state of upset, it’s common for the child to offer their favourite toy to that adult in a bid to cheer them up. Often this seemingly selfless action surprises us.

But perhaps deep within our collective unconscious, this ability or skill is as fundamental as any form of communication. Perhaps in ensuring all members of the tribe are healthy and happy, our ancestors ensured the overall tribe and therefore the “selfish” or individualistic survival needs of every member were met. In other words, by using empathy we look after the collective and in doing so increase our personal survival.

Empathy for Leaders

Actors are truly aware of how to use and display their empathy. In approaching a role, the actor has to use her own experience and memory of events and emotions to connect with a character in a play. To really get a handle on how the character talks, walks, acts and feels, the actor has to stretch herself and explore human behaviour as fully as possible.

What learning then could be transposed for today’s business leaders? Many of whom are focused on the bottom line, share price, their own stock options, their personal profile… As opposed to really understanding the wants, needs, motivations and emotions of the people who are the organisation.

It’s a well worn cliche that “our people are greatest assets” or words to that effect. If you’re a business leader, isn’t it time you carved out time to understand your greatest assets..?

Sartaj Garewal is the founder of Dynamic Presenting – a creative, leadership development consultancy, adapting theatre training to create leadership programs for business.

Dynamic Presenting – Enabling Powerful Communication

 

Role play mediation training

Role Play for Effective Mediation Training

Using role play is an innovative means of training in many areas of business and particularly relevant for those interested in mediation.

Dynamic Presenting ran a sell out workshop on improvisation skills for qualified mediators. The event was organised in conjunction with CIArb – Chartered Institute of Arbitrators www.ciarb.org and took place at the offices of magic circle law firm Allen & Overy. Sartaj Garewal MCIArb and elite mediator Amanda Bucklow ran a very interactive, high impact session allowing delegates to experience the value of improvisation when the stakes are high. Role play in other words.

Keynote speakers included The Honourable Mr Justice Ramsey and Karl Mackie. The day involved various break out sessions addressing a wide range of relevant topics from ‘The Myth of Reality Testing’ to ‘Improvisation Skills for Mediators.’

Forum Theatre

The event began with a high impact forum theatre intervention where the audience of 50 or so invited delegates watched actors role playing a typical mediation scenario. The scenario was challenging and realistic and depicted two parties in conflict where the mediator (played by an actor) loses control of initial proceedings and the whole affair turned into a slanging match.

The scene lasted just a few minutes and was then re-run from the top, only this time the watching delegates were instructed to stop the action whenever the actor role playing the mediator character said or did anything they felt could be more effective. The actors would role play moments as advised with new direction and lines from the audience which in turn affected the behaviour and actions of the two parties in conflict, resulting in a completely different and far more effective outcome. All with a good deal of laughing and debating along the way..!

Experiential Training Works…!

With a keen, energetic audience, experiential training interventions such as forum theatre and role play can work wonders and all with absolutely no powerpoint slides or flip charts in sight…!!

Sartaj Garewal is the founder of Dynamic Presenting – a creative, leadership development consultancy, adapting theatre training to create leadership programs for business.

Dynamic Presenting – Enabling Powerful Communication