2015 Memories - A Kind of a DDI Newsletter - Part 5

Post 5: Participant reflections on how to lead in conflicted field

DDI Intensive October 2015:  Power, love, war and miracles in Barcelona Spain 

Ahmed, from Egypt is an organisational coach and facilitator. He works across the Middle East, Europe and also periodically in the USA:

"My training with DDI really helps me even on the family personal level in being able to unfold and see the dream behind the complaint. Beyond the anger, the emotions to the essence of what the others are trying to say. This for me is simply magic. Even in conflicts that have lasted for years and years ¬I am able to make good ground. It’s amazing how when people are seen at the essence level, the energy completely shifts. It is beyond culture, beyond nationality, it is a human thing. Amazing!"

Ahmed shares his new learning here on leadership, victims and oppressors with an example of a leadership tension in a corporation he works with:

Employees were continuously evaluating their bosses. The leaders were caught in the role of the oppressor. They were so busy evaluating how they could have done things differently. They were experienced as oppressors, and yet they felt they were the victims! I love what we learned today that whatever the corporation is doing to you, you are partially doing also, even if on a lesser scale.  You just don’t see it. 

Ahmed is describing the power in our time, of ‘we, the people’. When used without awareness, unbridled strength of the ones against the leader can unleash a force that also dehumanizes and hurts.  

Through a group process on this topic, we learned about the double bind of the leader/facilitator under attack. If you fight back, force your point and win, you can make enemies for life. Showing vulnerability in the moment of attack as a human being with a beating heart and feelings, can also be problematic. We saw in action the distinction between the powerful energy of a role, and the positional power of the leader. The energy can be occupied by anyone. Now may not be the moment to vacate the positional role and become a hurting person that the opponent needs to take of. Someone else will occupy the leadership energy and not necessarily with awareness for the good of the whole. 

In the large group processes, we witnessed and practiced different strategies for de-escalation, depending on context and the moment:

The leader/facilitator/participant facilitator can go over the other side and live into the opposite position congruently. 

The leader can challenge back and intensify the interaction - escalate to essence and allow the roles to switch that way. This is edgy, and necessary to learn to be able to sit in the fire of extreme conflict towards a deeper result. What makes this possible? Maybe it is fate, an initiation path of love, discipline, and knowing your team has your back through good times and bad.

Learning to challenge back as the leader/facilitator/participant facilitator - on either side - and to stay related - takes a special attitude. For some, this comes naturally. For others, it is a lifetime practice in getting more relaxed about making a mess, cleaning it up over and over again and finding beauty in the painful and horrible mess.

Leadership challenges can be terrifying. At the same time, being attacked and challenged as a leader can help the organisation learn, grow and change itself. Unexpectedly, when power, war and love see each other, a window to a new world opens up, like magic.

Nancy, an organisational coach and facilitator in the USA, reflects on her new relationship to conflict:

"Conflict is not to be avoided, rather, engaged in and embraced. It is messy, dangerous, scary work. Finding the deeper meanings behind conflict through genuine dialogue among all involved parties is the only way to true understanding, accord, progress and peace. How can I bring this possibility to my work with community leaders? How can I bring this to my personal life? How can I bring this to my world?"

Benjamin, from Germany reflects on the change in his approach to conflict, as an organisational trainer and facilitator:

"Rather than ignoring elephants in the room, I've developed a real curiosity for them! I also notice that I am much less willing to accept going around in cycles in a conflict, even in my close relationships. Of course I still find it hard to jump in at the deep end, and sometimes I even wonder if I have improved my awareness at all. In optimistic moments I appreciate my doubt as a sign that I am learning. "

Wednesday, 16. December 2015

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