Step Toward The Wolf

615. Join me in inspiring truly powerful people. Each day I will add a new thought, story or idea to support your quest and mine.

It’s an analogy I use often with groups: In the story of Little Red Riding Hood, which character is necessary to move the story forward? The wolf. Without the wolf, there is no story. Without the wolf there is no conflict. In story terms, conflict is the motor that drives a story forward. In personal and organizational growth terms, conflict serves the same function; remove the conflict and you will impede your growth. Conflict, obstacle, hurdle, challenge,…chose your word; it is the wolf, the trial that serves as midwife for the opportunity to emerge. New perspectives become available and necessary when old perspectives snarl and howl.

Processes of change in an organization are exactly the same as processes of change in an individual. The mistake we make in both cases is to attempt to eliminate the wolf from our story. We’ve confused good process with comfort. Discomfort, not comfort, is the hallmark of a vital change process.

Teams that always agree are inert. Teams that know how to disagree are dynamic. The greatest artistic collaborations I have ever experienced were comprised of people with opposing points of view and no investment in being right. They were artists dedicated to bringing their best ideas to a team, knowing that there would emerge from the group a vision greater than any single member could imagine. Collaboration is a cauldron that requires heat. It also requires an understanding that agendas like “needing to be right” or “have things my way” will sully the gold. Great collaborators step into heat unguarded; they do not attempt to eliminate the heat because they are in service to a vision and not a scorecard.

Collaboration is a group of people evoking the best from all involved; they are invested in the success of the whole, they are actively creating power with their team. The fear of conflict is a sure sign of power-over games; it is the sign of individuals pretending to be a group, seeking their worth from their peers instead of bringing their worth to the collaboration. When a group attempts to eliminate conflict it is a sure sign they are afraid and, therefore, necessarily invested in control.

If you or your team feel stuck, it is a good bet that you’ve eliminated the wolf from your story. Like all good growth steps, the thing you need to do often feels counterintuitive; rather than play nice, play honest. Bring your best offer and don’t forget to invite the wolf to your party.

3 Responses

  1. I want to send this to everyone I know. I just might! 😉

  2. […] Robinson wrote on his blog this week: “Teams that know how to disagree are dynamic…Collaboration is a cauldron that requires heat.”  The Visionary Leader knows that a little […]

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