Organizational Drama: A Leadership Perspective on Conflict


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Some nonprofit organizations experience frequent conflict. The characters and plot-lines may change, but the persistence of some kind of drama is constant. In this webinar, we will take a realistic and practical look at how an organization’s leaders can promote a culture of constructive conflict resolution. We will consider the key leadership challenges of: recognizing patterns; assessing causes of organizational conflict; interrupting negative cycles; coping with fear in the workplace; and fostering a climate of respect and dialogue. I will share real-life case studies; tips and tools; and resources for further learning.

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Organizational Drama: A Leadership Perspective on Conflict

  1. 1. Organizational Drama: A Leadership Perspective on Conflict Bob Greene July 18, 2012A Service Of: Sponsored by:
  2. 2. INTEGRATED PLANNING Advising nonprofits in: • Strategy • Planning (617) 969-1881 • Organizational Development info@synthesispartnership.comA Service Of: Sponsored by:
  3. 3. www.mission.doA Service Of: Sponsored by:
  4. 4. Today’s Speaker Bob Greene Coach/Consultant Bob Greene Coaching and Consulting Hosting:Assisting with chat questions:Jamie Maloney, Nonprofit Webinars Sam Frank, Synthesis PartnershipA Service Of: Sponsored by:
  5. 5. Nonprofit WebinarsBob GreeneBob Greene Coaching &
  6. 6. • Reminder: You’ll receive a link to download these slides after the session.• On request, I will send you a handout packet with resources to complement the presentation. Email me at• I’ll respond to questions about half-way through and at the end. Feel free to contact me after the webinar with follow-up questions.
  7. 7. • “How long has that been going on?”• “There always seems to be some conflict…”
  8. 8. 1) Conflict is inevitable, so it’s crucial to learn to handle it constructively.2) Approaches that don’t deal directly won’t work long-term.3) Leadership is important to put out fires and help address the culture that “sets” them.4) Everyone in the organization can take responsibility to help promote cooperation.
  9. 9. • “It’s all about personalities that don’t get along.”• “We just need better communication.”• “We just need to act like professionals.”• “Ignore it, and it will go away.”
  10. 10. • Take responsibility for one’s own contribution.• Take a systems perspective and action at the team, department and organizational levels.
  11. 11. Take responsibility for one’s own contribution:• Assess your own stance toward conflict.• Resist the temptations of denial, avoidance, and blame.• Ask yourself (and others) if you’re playing a role, even if unintentionally.• Model authentic and effective communication.
  12. 12. Assess your own stance toward conflict:• What characterizes my conflict style? Avoid, Go along to get along, Compromise, "Bring it on"?• My greatest strength in handling conflict is...• How I’d like to improve in dealing with conflict...• In what ways do I influence how conflict is engaged in this team (group, organization)?
  13. 13. Take a systems perspective and action at theteam, department and organizational levels:• Gather sound & current data.• Explore underlying causes.• Directly address current conflict(s).• Impact the system to prevent and cope better with future conflicts.
  14. 14. What is a Systems Perspective? “Systems thinking is the process of understanding how things influence one another within a whole.” (Wikipedia) Interaction between individuals is impacted by factors in the larger organization. Leadership must maintain this broader perspective.
  15. 15. Take a systems perspective and action at theteam, department and organizational levels:• Gather sound & current data.• Explore underlying causes.• Directly address current conflict(s).• Impact the system to prevent and cope better with future conflicts.
  16. 16. Gather sound & current data:• Rather than rely on assumptions, guesses, and impressions.• Sound data is accurate. Gather it from multiple sources to get a more complete perspective.• Current data is up-to-date: learn from the past, but don’t dwell on it.• See whether there are patterns of incidents and concerns.
  17. 17. Gathering data:• Individual and group interviews• Surveys (typically online)• Ensure anonymity!• Plan to report back the findings (maintaining appropriate confidentiality)• Consider engaging a neutral outsider to conduct the research
  18. 18. Explore underlying causes: • Different assumptions and expectations? • Confusion over how decisions are made? • Bottlenecks/operations issues? • Supervision/authority issues? • Experience of discrimination or exclusion?
  19. 19. Directly address current conflict(s):• Emphasize the importance of working on a resolution.• Provide for facilitated dialogue between involved parties.• Acknowledge safety and power concerns.• Use a neutral facilitator who is fair to all.• Create a process, not just a one-time event.
  20. 20. Impact the system to prevent and cope betterwith future conflicts: • Create a process for engaging. • Feed back and discuss the data on the culture. • Develop shared norms & expectations. • Address team/organizational issues identified. • Reward team behavior as well as individual performance.
  21. 21. • Be honest about your own contribution (including silence).• Identify effective ways to frame and communicate the issue.• Identify your allies and sphere of influence.• Accurately consider risks you face by speaking up about the situation.• Consider your personal life Plan-B, if needed.
  22. 22. Thank You!• These slides will be available to download at the Nonprofit Webinars site.• While there check out the full schedule of free Nonprofit Webinars.• Contact me if you’d like a copy of the handout packet for this presentation:
  23. 23. Find listings for our current season of webinars and register at: NonprofitWebinars.comA Service Of: Sponsored by: