Somewhere during my teenage years, I claimed the thought that it was noble to make everyone around me happy; even if this was virtually impossible. Years later, as I held a executive level position with a national entertainment company I began to notice something about myself. It was obvious that this thought followed me. The noble desire to make everyone happy and to keep peace was shaping my own actions, resulting in a change of behavior for me as a leader. My own decision making became stale and static, due to me not wanting to possibly offend anyone. But even more, the virus seemed to spread throughout my team as well. Everyone on my team had seemingly great relationships with each other, there were hardly any disagreements. From the inside, it appeared to be OK. But from the outside, the signs were showing. Consultants began to quickly notice that we lacked energy, creativity and the moving-forward kind of harmony.
Author and business consultant MICHAEL CARROLL has lectured and come to the conclusion that probably one of the biggest mistakes leaders make is managing to keep the peace among the team. Leaders make the mistake of trying to create an unrealistic environment of simple harmony. When confronted with conflicts, mistakes, differences of opinion or straight on failure, too often leaders try to manage the situation by bringing about agreement, order and "peacefulness." At first glance that seems to be the appropriate response--even obvious. But more often than not, what is really needed when managing disagreements, mistakes, opinionated team members and conflict is courage; what I call Dynamic harmony.
When it comes to music theory, harmony is the vertical aspect when two or more tones are played at the same time. Harmony is also relative which can be comprised of consonance and dissonance.
A few years ago, while working with a client, I had the pleasure of meeting Tonya Turner. Ms. Turner works as a project manager /engineer for a local organization in the Atlanta area. At times during my assignment with this client, I would notice Ms Turner seated in the room with physical expressions that I simply couldn't read. But after a sudden lift of the eyebrow, it would always be followed by a series of questions. Her questions at first seemed inappropriate and sometime out of sync. But all of them created tension; either tension within myself or tension among the team. However, none of Ms Turner's expressions or questions, at anytime were offensive or disrespectful. They were just uncomfortable. With her background and professional expertise, her questions were only opportunities to bring clarity to areas that were left unclear. As the leader, I quickly had to adjust and embrace this for the success of the team. This took some confidence and courage. I did not want to return as the leader of 'ole, trying not to ruffle any feathers....but going really “no-where” as a team. Ms. Turner and all of her questions became the opportunity to move the team forward beyond mediocrity.
Once a leader courageously move toward the hard questions, conflict and disagreements this may spark more even conflict. But when properly managed, conflict focuses choices, aids commitment, elevates thinking and sharpens issues. Productive conflict, by continually looking for creative options, can be an enormous aid to organizational growth and progress. In short, leading with courage is about respecting and engaging the intelligent edge of conflict rather than permitting the simple harmony (keep peace/ please everyone) to dull our creative thinking and blind our insight. This now becomes more than managing a situation but now leading your team to new discoveries, opportunities and potential.
For a leader simply keeping peace, trying to make everyone happy and avoiding all signs of conflict is unrealistic. Harmony is required in a successful working environment. But not just any kind of harmony. Through the natural leadership of Ms Turner, her questions, observations and expressions were pushing the team to avoid the mediocrity checkpoint. Most of the time, to keep the organization moving forward even in the midst of conflict and challenges;leaders do not need a simple harmony with everyone singing “Kum-Ba-Yah.” What is needed is courageous harmony, fearless harmony....that “moving-forward” Dynamic harmony, that transforms the average to something Amazing.
Dynamic (Moving-Forward) Harmony -Fosters Passion - Can provide Creative Insight - Offers opportunity for Clarity in vision - Can increase Growth and Production
Thank you, Ms. Turner for the leadership reminder. It is important indeed to make sure the entire team is comfortable, moving in harmony. (Any 'ole harmony, just will not do...) It's just as equal and even more vital to remain committed to the goals and objectives; this cause for a different kind of harmony. Great leaders, even in the face of obstacles and conflicts reminds the team of the “Why,” using every opportunity available to inspire movement. For when the leader courageously moves out front, the motivated and engaged team will follow. That's another kind of harmony...next level leadership.
Creative Coaching through Music:
“Music can change the world because it can change people” - Bono