- To sustain the clients capability to be empathetic and objective
- To improve the capabilities to communicate and the ability to handle conflicts better.
We concluded session 2 with the identification of the above 2 goals. The next meeting was scheduled within the next 1 week. During this time the client volunteered to review and understand the following better.
- Leadership competencies that his organization prescribes
- That the client will interview his peers, subordinates and superiors to understand their perspective of his ability to handle conflicts.
We did some role playing exercises to help the client have an effective and useful interview later that week.
The third session turned out to be the most dramatic session. The client came in petty upset and depressed based on what he heard from the interviews. The folks he interviewed had opened their heart and mouth and spoken quite in a negative tone about the clients ability to handle conflicts. They had opined that the client preferred to avoid conflicts and always settles for sub optimal solutions owing to this inability. They had spoken about how the client is loosing respect and authority owing to this issue. We sat quiet for five minutes and I opened the meeting with the question as to how it feels to receive such a direct feedback. The client felt wounded and felt he was being victimized while he tried maintaining harmony wherever he went. His ego was hurt and his fundamental beliefs were shaken.
I allowed the client to vent his feelings and then asked a simple question as to why maintaining harmony was crucial for him. As we dug deeper into this issue the client figured that too much of debate stalled actions and lack of harmony indicated lack of action and progress. As a front line manager and a task focused manager, the client had too much of focus in keeping the action going and focus on reducing debates and inter team engagements. Conflicts within team and team members were taken 1×1 and issues were never discussed in public to create a make believe situation of peace and harmony. Detailed drilled down questioning made the client conclude that he was in fact creating a ‘make believe’ environment of peace and harmony while the heat and fire was simmering from within. His inner and philosophical thought that the external world is a manifestation of an internal thought had made him to avoid the thought of possible conflict and disagreement in his team. The client came to the conclusion that he has to come to terms with the reality and agree that the situation existed that required him and his team to face it.
In order to help the client to develop a different mental model so that his perspectives may be re-framed from a conflict point of view; I suggested that we do a role playing exercise. The exercise required the client to play the role of his team member who has a difference of opinion on some specific issues that the client has been avoiding. The exercise helped the client to conclude that possibly he could be judgmental about the intentions of his team member. The client had a feeling that the other person had an agenda in driving the different point of view. This feeling was effectively addressed with the role play exercise and the client developed a more open mind about having a healthy debate with the team member. The client also agreed that avoiding the issue will have larger ramification down the line.
The client was at a point where he was looking for self help tools that will help him to handle disagreements better. I asked the client how different it will be if he was the person who was disagreeing with himself on the issues instead of a different person. The client felt quite comfortable with that though he felt that his decision making may be delayed. We agreed to develop a structure by which the client would look at different members in his team as additional brain power that the client has got and as though they are extensions of his own brain. When disagreements happen, it is as though it is a disagreement within the extended large brain of the client. I asked the client as to how he handled conflicts within his brain. The client had a very rational process for handling it. He objectively weighed the pros and cons of the issues within his brain, some times depended on his intuition but kind of resolved it through this process. One of the concern that the client had about extending it to his team was that people may use disagreements to delay execution which could finally hamper the performance of his unit.