Archive for May, 2009

“Pooh’s Expodition” – A Parable of Leadership

A view on how things at the top may be perceived lower down – from the perspective of A.A. Milne’s characters in Winnie the Pooh:

One day, they are all walking along to discover the Pole, and Pooh is making up a song about the whole affair, when Christopher Robin says “Hush!”, because they are just coming up to a Dangerous Place.

And Pooh says “Hush!” to Piglet, and Piglet says “Hush!” to Kanga, and Kanga says “Hush!” to Owl (while Roo says “Hush!” quietly to himself), and Owl says “Hush!” to Eeyore, and Eeyore turns round and says “Hush!” in a scary voice to all of Rabbit’s accumulated friends-and-relations, and all of Rabbit’s friends-and-relations turn round and say “Hush!” to each other, right up until the “Hush!” reaches the very end of the line and the smallest friend-and-relation, Alexander Beetle, who is mortified to find that the entire Expotition is saying “Hush!” to him and has to bury himself in a crack for two days and then live quietly with his aunt for the rest of his life to recover.

For more of the story, go to Winnie the Pooh.

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Acting & Conflict Resolution

People often ask me, “What do acting & conflict resolution have in common?”

Well most important of all is listening.  There are a number of areas for cross over, but listening is crucial.  Both mediators and actors cite the ability to listen as the most important thing one has to do in their profession.

Below are Ed Harris’s thoughts on the subject:

Both mediation and acting require the ability to get beyond ones own perspective and step into the unknown world of the other. And that’s just not as “a character,” but the act of truly listening requires the ability to be affected by what is happening outside you. This is necessary for both actors and mediators.

“Managing” Conflict…

Conflict is never pretty.  Confronting conflict is rarely easy.  But leaving it alone can cause greater difficulties in the future.  Today, a colleague told me about a mishap of a growing company – on the brink of receiving £500,000 investment from a VC! Unfortunately, unresolved issues between the directors lead to a conflict that has ruined their business – and probably their relationships too.  As a result, not only did they lose the money, but are now looking at legal processes (and costs!) to salvage what they can for themselves from the business.  Its not pretty – and its not a productive use of energy.

Yet time and again, conflicts are left in the closet only to emerge at the most crucial stages.  Its happened to us all: whether it be at home, in relationships or with our colleagues.  We ignore, deny or sometimes are just oblivious to destructive dynamics that are affecting our lives.

Personally, this can lead to ill-feelings – at worst depression – and a breakdown in trust and, sometimes, lost relationships.  At work, the same can be true, but it can also lead to a loss in productivity and dynamism from the employees (and employers!)  No one likes these things.  And loss is a part of life.

Yet we can take steps either to mitigate loss OR to discover new opportunities to prevent unnecessary costs.  This itself can take energy, but most of that is overcoming the fear of being hurt, upsetting the status quo or of hurting someone else.  (See future blog “Roles” or contact me for ways to manage this.)

But more than energy, working with conflict takes awareness.

Management Structure

A typical hurdle to addressing conflicts is choosing to take responsibility for noticing them and then acting on them.  A subtle way this can be avoided lies Continue reading ‘“Managing” Conflict…’