Eye of the Storm Leadership
150 Ideas, Stories, Quotes, and Excercises On The
Art and Politics of Managing Human Conflicts
by Peter Adler, Ph.D.
The 15 Tenets of Eye of the Storm Leadership

There is a vast universe of ideas about leadership. Leadership in "the eye of the storm" comes down to this:

1.                Apply “guerillaâ€� tactics to managing conflict. Under the surface of every issue there are deep human needs. The need for safety, for continuity, for amity, and for closure and more are universal. In the chaos of conflict, the reasonable solution, the well crafted bargain, and the wise agreement will respond to these needs and acquire real traction.

2.                Be “Protean.â€� To be protean is to be flexible. Check your ego and your orthodoxies at the door. The goal is suppleness.

3.                Dive into the Fray. Most people either fear or love conflict too much. There is a middle way. Assess the situation and, at the right moment, become a small, tactical dispute-seeking missile and a guerilla problem solver. Pick the conflicts that have the greatest probability of advancing the greatest good for the most people.

4.                Practice Paradox. Watch for key contradictions, polarities, dilemmas, and inconsistencies. Get comfortable with paradox and help others stay in the gray zone for awhile. If it’s an “either/orâ€� proposition, work both sides of the street. Invent possibilities.

5.                Relish the Pragmatic. Cling to your ideals but stay mindful of day-to-day practicalities which can defeat or accelerate our highest aspirations. The combination of unwavering optimism and a hard eye on what must be done is a powerful leadership trait.

6.                Assault the Problem. Frame problems as questions to be answered rather than wars to be won. Make the problem the common enemy and get all sides to undertake the attack together. 

7.                Create Process. Serve as architect-at-large but involve everyone else who has a stake to help design and participate fully in the forums you create. There is a great wisdom and collective intelligence. Your job is to uncork it.

8.                Work Together. The spirit of teamwork is powerful. Set the example and play nicely with others. Then, help others do the same thing knowing that great teams are temporary and cannot be perpetuated forever.

9.                Communicate Artfully. What is said and done in the heat of conflict is remembered. Use your greatest skill in private and public discussions. Help others communicate what their heart and mind tell them needs to be said.

10.          Find the Facts. Information is a powerful transformer and information jointly arrived at is especially powerful. Clarity and factual understanding are the antecedents of smart deals. The greatest enemy of a good agreement is information that turned out to be missing, wrong, or misapplied.

11.          Govern Lightly. Bearing some portion of responsibility for the destiny of the collective is an honor and a burden. Practice little “pâ€� politics and the big “Pâ€� politics will work themselves out.

12.          Hatch a Plan. The precursor to coordinated action is a powerful vision and a smart strategy to implement it. The inspired vision and well conceived, collaboratively crafted plan creates new beginnings.

13.          Turbo-Charge Negotiations. Done badly, bargaining is awkward and frustrating, a sad tangle of bad process, irrelevant substance, and fractured relationships that produce bad results. Help others get to the finish line when their negotiations are in jeopardy.

14.          Choreograph the Dance. Good conflict management is good stage-craft. Arrange a sequence and manage the process. Maneuver the pieces together so it all appears seamless.

15.          Move Beyond Deadlock. Expect impasse. It is inevitable. It is also usually temporary. Breakdowns are not aberrations. They are breakthroughs delayed and solutions in progress.  

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