Leading Through Conflict: How Successful Leaders Transform Differences into Opportunities
by Mark Gerzon
Boston, Massachusetts : Harvard Business School Press, 2006
When conflicts strike in your organization or community, how will you pull people together? As our world grows smaller, opportunities for conflict multiply. Ethnic, religious, political and personal difference drive people apart in organizations and institutions of all kinds — with disastrous consequences. It’s the task of effective leaders to bring people together again.
World-renowned mediation expert Mark Gerzon argues that leaders have failed to rise to this challenge. Our organizations, schools, and governments remain filled with divisive dictators and everyday managers instead of what Gerzon calls mediators — leaders who transform conflict so that everyone can move forward together.
Through vivid case studies drawn from decades of Gerzon’s work in a wide range of organizational, political, and global conflicts, Leading Through Conflict provides eight powerful tools leaders can use to transform seemingly intractable differences into progress:
- Integral Vision – acknowledging all sides of a conflict
- Systems Thinking – understanding the relationships among factors contributing to the conflict
- Presence – applying all your mental, emotional, and spiritual resources to grasping the nature of the conflict
- Inquiry – asking questions to elicit essential information for addressing the conflict
- Conscious communication – choosing with awareness how you speak and listen during the conflict
- Dialogue – communicating in ways that inspire participants’ ability to work through the conflict
- Bridging – building partnerships and alliances that cross the borders dividing your organization or community
- Innovation – fostering breakthrough solutions that create new options for resolving the conflict.
Each of these tools is covered extensively in its own chapter and illustrated with a wealth of examples from organizations, groups, and individuals. Leading Through Conflict also offers an appendix containing hands-on guidelines for leaders grappling with crisis-level conflict.
Practical and passionate, this ground-breaking book makes the tools used by cross-border leaders accessible to everyone who wants to help create healthier companies, communities, and countries.
Hailed by the New York Times as an “expert” in civil discourse Mark Gerzon has worked as a facilitator and leadership trainer for the United Nations, the U.S. House of Representatives, and a wide range of corporate and civic organizations around the world for more than a decade. He is the author of several books, including two bestsellers. He is also President of Mediators Foundation and Co-Director of its project, the Global Leadership Network.