Collaboration as Mutual Responsibility

Most people do not really want freedom, because freedom involves responsibility, and most people are frightened of responsibility. Sigmund Freud I think that Freud was wrong, but not totally wrong. I don’t think people are frightened of responsibility. Instead, I think that they’ve been conditioned to believe that someone else should and will be responsible. But, if we want every person to act responsibly – for results, for choices, for the risks they see in others’ decisions and actions – then we must change how we think and talk about responsibility. When I ask people to describe collaboration, the most frequent definition I hear is working together on some shared […]

Expose Your Thinking

I borrow this title phrase from a coaching client – I’ll call him Nick – who has identified “exposing his thinking” as a development goal. Nick wanted to have more impact in his organization, and at first he tried to do that by doing more of what he was good at – thinking. He formulated ideas inside his own head and was uncomfortable sharing those ideas until they were fully formed. He asked people questions for the purpose of fleshing out his internal problem analyses, thinking he was being inclusive by doing so, but the reason for his questions was known only to him.  He might be concerned about the […]

Stop Treating Conflicts Like Problems

My partner, Joan, wrote a great piece about learning to love conflict. In that post, she cited Ron Heifetz, who claims that the essential quality of leadership is the ability to resolve competing values – in other words, to resolve conflicts. I want to build on her strong start by discussing one of the biggest challenges to effective conflict resolution – which is treating conflicts as if they were problems. I recently conducted a workshop on collaborative conflict resolution. When we got to the part about developing remedies, participants tried to resolve their conflicts with “the usual suspects” – appeals to policies or rules, shared goals, or methodological standards. In […]

You Don’t Have to Hate Selling

Are you in a role where there is some expectation that you will “sell” a service or product, but you don’t really see yourself as a “sales person”? So many people, when they face the prospect of selling, experience deep feelings of dread and loathing. But it doesn’t have to be that way.   Let’s start by looking at just why you feel that dread and loathing. Commonly, what I hear are statements such as, “I feel I’m asking someone to do me a favor,” or, “I’m trying to persuade someone to buy something they don’t need.” Those concerns are based on a manipulative model of selling –a picture that’s […]

Face Time Doesn’t Equal Productivity

I understand Marissa Mayer’s edict to have workers return to the office, but I doubt she will accomplish her stated goal of having Yahoo “move more quickly, with teams focusing on collaboration and communication.”  Simply, I believe that most people today face too many roadblocks to effective collaboration – no matter where they park their computer. What is Real Collaboration? At Teleos, we see collaboration as much more than coordinating tasks or playing nice together.  Real collaboration is about building commitment and managing performance, to achieve some shared purpose.  Real collaboration requires people to share their views, even when those views differ from those held by supposed experts and authority […]

Learn to Love Conflict

It’s almost universal. When I talk with leaders about conflict, they say they don’t like it. Seasoned leaders may add, “Of course I don’t like conflict – who does? But I’ve learned to deal with it.” I wonder, though. Why is conflict so disliked, even by those who have developed skills to address it? Could you instead imagine welcoming conflict as valuable, and feeling no anxiety about it? To understand why we dislike conflict, and to possibly change our attitudes towards it, we need to look beyond the phenomenon of conflict itself, and focus instead on our beliefs and assumptions about conflict, and our emotional tendencies in conflict situations, which […]

Knowing Your Interests

Thanks to Henry Mintzberg, we know that managers’ worlds are a series of “moments” – short episodes and interruptions through which they must accomplish their work. But, many managers I work with bounce from moment to moment in a reactive mode, rarely stopping to reflect on what they want to get out of a given episode – to reflect, in other words, on their interests. As the old expression goes, “If you don’t know where you’re going, you’ll probably end up somewhere else.”   Why Are Managers So Often Unclear About Their Own Interests? Here are a few reasons: Managers live in a world that values action over reflection. They […]