Mine for Understanding
Image courtesy of elormsrigboh.wordpress.com

Mine for Understanding

Team members don’t always get along. Given competing agendas, interests, perspectives, and needs, we might even have two people who vehemently disagree on our team. As we’ve said before, conflict within a team is not a bad thing. We actually believe that the right kind of conflict is necessary for a healthy, high-performing team. The problem comes when disagreements become rifts that erode trust, impact our team dynamics, and ultimately affect our results. This is why learning how to address conflict productively is critical for teams, but what do we do when our team members just can’t seem to work around their disputes? What’s our role as a leader in a situation like this? Should we get involved or leave them to solve their own problems? One leader might say, “We’re all adults here; they’ll figure it out.” But in our experience, that usually just leaves things festering. And while they’re “figuring it out,” what’s the cost to the organization? In our experience, unhealthy conflict is a distraction that high-performing leaders minimize through mediation skills. What does that look like? 

Sometimes there’s a belief that mediation is about saying the right thing. One leader speaking with David recently shared her view of how this moment should go. She imagined a movie-like scene where she called the individuals at odds into her office; she would share a couple of thoughtful, instructive words. Light bulbs suddenly would flash over their heads, and everyone would say, “Oh, we get it. Everything’s good now. We’ll be better teammates in the future.” Of course, her real-life experience never quite worked out that way. 

One of the reasons why this approach often doesn’t work is because it’s built off assumptions. Many times, leaders don’t know nearly as much about their teammates’ conflict as they think they do, and subsequently, they can’t help team members resolve the actual tension. That’s why leaders should start mediating conflict by asking questions and practicing empathy. Researchers from Northwestern University found that when leaders do this, they’re more likely to experience successful outcomes in conflict. Questions invite others to pause, think, and clarify their frustrations, allowing us to better understand the issues.

The power of questions.
Having an arsenal of go-to questions helps you quickly get into the role of mediator. In most cases, the best starting point is with one-on-one conversations to better understand the issues from all perspectives. This is more manageable than inviting everyone into a group discussion when the facts are still unclear to you and crosstalk tends to happen. Once you have a basic understanding of what happened and how long it has been going on, you can move to more probing questions like:

  • How does (insert name of the other person) feel? Can you put yourself in their shoes?
  • What is the (insert name of the person they are at odds with) saying?
  • What is the difference between your perspective and (Insert name)?
  • Does anything that you’ve heard go against your values?
  • What parts of this conflict do you believe you could be responsible for?
  • What will happen if this conflict isn’t resolved through this discussion/process?
  • What would you be willing to do or change to help resolve this issue? What would you like to see done or changed?

Recognize that there is no objective reality in situations like this. Everyone perceives what has been done differently. Through questions like these, we grab a greater understanding of the situation. We also open up the opportunity to get each person in the conflict to see things from the other person’s perspective, thus bridging the gap between them.

—–

Reflection: In moments of conflict, do you start with mining for understanding? How could you improve your handling of conflict amid your team?

Ethos Leadership Group, LLC

Share Today!

Share on facebook
Share on twitter
Share on linkedin
Share on email

Recent Posts

Read More. Lead More.

Trust
Communication

Fast-Track Trust

Ask anyone to talk about people they trust, and the conversation will inevitably turn to how long they’ve known a

Read More »
My
Communication

Communication Breakdown

Communication breakdown It’s always the same I’m having a nervous breakdown Drive me insane When the members of Led Zeppelin penned those lyrics

Read More »
Take a Break
Self-Care

Take A Break

Every now and then, a familiar ache befalls leaders. The glare of our computer screen appears to suddenly intensify. Our

Read More »

Sign Up Today!

Leadership Content Delivered to Your Inbox

We believe leaders need support and encouragement. That’s why we send emails to our clients and friends every Monday with content designed to help us renew and refocus for the week ahead. If you would like to start your week with us, sign up today.

Partner with Ethos

Sherri Ferrell

“Whether it’s using a self-assessment process to identify ways to improve board effectiveness, leading the board in strategy development and succession planning, or assisting with CEO performance evaluations, Ethos is skilled at assessing the scope of a board’s needs and devising strategies to help improve their performance and the performance of their organizations.”

Sherri Ferrell
Chief Executive Officer, West Virginia Primary Care Association
Lisa Jones

“I cannot say enough great things about the strategic planning process with Ethos. The process was not only fun but truly engaging. Becky and David were able to take a multitude of ideas from more than 30 participatory team members and help consolidate them into a workable functional plan. I will definitely use Ethos again for strategic planning and other leadership consulting needs!”

Lisa Jones
Chief Executive Officer, Southern Highlands Community Mental Health Center
Renee Steffen

“Ethos was a true consultative partner in our strategic planning process. They listened to our organization’s feedback and were flexible in incorporating modifications into the process in a way that demonstrated they valued our organization’s culture and history. In addition to walking alongside us every step of the way, Ethos’s facilitation skills are top-notch. They helped move the conversation forward during critical breakthrough moments while ensuring everyone felt heard and valued. Several of our board members commented that it was the best strategic planning process in which they had ever participated. I can tell Ethos has a passion for helping clients move forward in a positive direction and this positive energy was highly evident in our experience working with them. We weren’t just another client but rather, we were a valued partner in the work!”

Renee Steffen
Executive Director, Sisters Health Foundation
Stacy DeCicco

“Our work with the Ethos team has impacted nearly every facet of our organization. Our initial experience engaged our board in a strategic thinking exercise. This half day event was originally scheduled to be an isolated experience; what it became was a launching point for organizational growth, professional development, and intentional, sustainable efforts. Our amazing experience within the strategic planning session brought mission and vision centered decision making to life for our team. The conversations of that day were not simply discussions that were archived and put on a shelf at the end of the meeting. They quickly transformed into digestible, attainable action items. Immediate implementation was possible because of the ongoing support and facilitation we received from the Ethos team. That energy and momentum flowed from the board, through our team, and out to the agencies that we support and engage across the community. We are a stronger organization because we are now able to execute our mission and serve our community better than ever before. The investment Ethos has made with us has created ripples that are felt further than they can ever be measured!”

Stacy DiCicco
Executive Director, United Way Alliance of the Mid‑Ohio Valley
Greg Franks

“Having served in leadership roles for several property management companies, I’ve had the opportunity to work with numerous consulting firms. My experience with Ethos Leadership, which involved an operational analysis of an active adult community with more than 16,000 residents, was one of the best experiences.”

“After spending two weeks embedded with our operational team and reviewing hundreds of documents, Ethos provided a comprehensive analysis and set of recommendations that addressed HR, Infrastructure, Leadership, Finance, Programs & Services, Planning, and Customer Service. Following Ethos’ analysis, we executed a plan to adopt sixteen (16) actionable steps that improved our operations while honoring the culture and values of our company and our client.”

“This entire experience set in motion a plan of execution that the community and its residents have benefited from and will for years to come. I highly recommend Ethos and their entire leadership team.”

Greg Franks
Vice President Southeast Region, AAM
Lisa Leach

“I best describe our organization’s experience of leadership development with Ethos Leadership Group as a journey of discovery that leads to building effective teams who are willing to break the silo mentality that often holds organizations from reaching their true potential. I have watched members of both our Management and C-Suite
levels grow and mature through the process Ethos Leadership Group has developed. Staff actively participates in assisting each other to achieve interdepartmental and strategic goals and share in each other’s successes rather than focus on one another’s missed opportunities. Through the discussion-based approach, our management team has learned to feel more confident in their decisionmaking abilities resulting in more effective and timely decisions. Ethos does a tremendous job of defining characteristics of effective leadership and helping staff to identify how their weaknesses and strengths can work in harmony to achieve organizational goals.”

Lisa Leach
Chief Executive Officer, Southern West Virginia Health System
Wendy Gall

“My time participating in the Ethos Executive Coaching program was a pivotal point
for me both professionally, as a new leader, and personally. Based off of a deep understanding of me as an individual, my coach was able to provide invaluable
insights and practices that helped guide me at a time in my career that was, I have to admit, a bit overwhelming. Our insightful discussions, along with the relationship that grew throughout our time working together, challenged me to grow in my areas of weakness and build on my strength, helped me formulate my thoughts around my leadership style, and provided me the tools and support I needed to gain confidence in becoming the authentic leader I am today.”

Wendy Gall
Director, Customer Care Strategic Initiatives and Innovation, First National Bank of Omaha
Enderson Miranda

“Ethos Leadership has been a trusted partner of OnSomble for several years. All members of our executive team trust and rely on Ethos’ expertise and advice. I have personally benefited tremendously by having Ethos available as a sounding board for strategic decisions over my years as COO and CEO at OnSomble. I can confidently say that Ethos consistently plays an important role in the continued growth and success of our company. I would unequivocally recommend the Ethos Leadership Group to any organization that wants to excel.”

Enderson Miranda
Chief Executive Officer, OnSomble, Inc.
Craig Glover

“The team at Ethos Leadership Group are great partners. They listened to my goals and developed a plan specific to my needs. Often, leadership groups have one approach they try to use for every situation. Ethos is different. Their various tools and approaches allows them to develop a custom plan for your organization.”

“The onsite work with the Ethos team was excellent. They are interactive, engaging, and fun. The session felt like a group of friends having a candid discussion as opposed to a work session. I highly recommend working with Ethos Leadership Group.”

Craig Glover
President and CEO, FamilyCare Health Centers
David Ray - Ethos Leadership Group

Ethos Team:

David Ray

Chief Strategy Officer

In 2017, David joined Ethos as the Chief Strategy Officer after leading and advising in the non-profit sector. An organizational troubleshooter and natural synergist, David leverages his analytical and relational skills to help clients take their business and team to their desired next level. With a passion to see others live and lead well, David enjoys connecting leaders to evidence-based practices to boost leadership capacity, build human capital, and improve organizational performance. David particularly enjoys working with clients through strategic planning, executive coaching, and team development.

Fast Facts:

  1. Started his own property investment company at the age of 24
  2. Certified Human Behavior Consultant
  3. David enjoys spending time with his family, traveling to islands, and pretty much anything that has to do with personal development
Rebekah D. Mathis-Stump, J.D. - Ethos Leadership Group

Ethos Team:

Rebekah D. Mathis-Stump, J.D.

Chief Operating Officer

Becky joined Ethos in 2009 after leading the daily operations of five distinct work teams over a ten-year period. An analyst and solution-generator by nature, she works with clients to identify their needs and develops a plan of action to reach their desired results. Having worked in numerous disciplines in her career, Becky is a generalist who brings a broad range of knowledge and experience to our clients. Becky particularly enjoys working with clients on organizational audits, strategic planning, employee training, and governance.

Fast Facts:

  1. Lived in numerous states growing up, finally claiming West Virginia as home after marrying a native son, Jeff Stump
  2. Received life membership in The Order of the Barristers — a national honor society
  3. Becky enjoys reading, golfing, and cheering on the West Virginia University Mountaineers
Dr. James A. Johnson - Ethos Leadership Group

Ethos Team:

Dr. James A. Johnson

Chief Executive Officer

In 1988, James launched our enterprise with a vision for enhancing the image, credibility, and ethics of companies and nonprofit organizations through training and coaching. As Ethos’ founder, he is our chief transformation officer – encouraging us to dream bigger dreams and mentoring us to achieve them. James brings this same passion to our clients, skillfully blending inspiration with practical application in his work. James’ primary areas of expertise include leadership and communication.

Fast Facts:

  1. Great Plains Development Officer at Pheasants Forever.
  2. Received President’s Volunteer Service Award (presented by President George W. Bush)
  3. James enjoys spending time with his wife (Lesa), hunting, golfing, and riding motorcycles