Yesterday I shared some of my 15 years of business expertise with an audience of mid-level executives interested in improving their communication skills. The ultimate takeaway from the session was that conflict is inevitable, but it is manageable.
Today’s leaders must become mediators. Mediators transform conflict because they see the larger picture. They don’t see conflicts as distinct, but rather interrelated. Resolving conflict requires widespread collaboration among various constituencies. Unlike the demagogue or the manager, the mediator sees and acts for the good of all. He or she learns continuously and thinks in terms of systems. Mediators bridge divisions and develop trust.
The leader in the “demagogue model” rules through fear and exploits conflict by blaming, dehumanizing, and, ultimately, destroying “the Other.” Demagogues are, of course, dangerous and disruptive. They are the antithesis of mediators.