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Leading Through Conflict: How Successful Leaders Transform Differences into Opportunities (Leadership for the Common Good) Hardcover – 1 May 2006

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Product details

  • Hardcover: 288 pages
  • Publisher: Harvard Business School Press; 1 edition (1 May 2006)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 159139919X
  • ISBN-13: 978-1591399193
  • Product Dimensions: 2.5 x 15.9 x 23.5 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 946,616 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Product Description

From the Author

You have identified three faces of leadership. What are they?
In the book, I identified the three faces of leadership--the Mediator, the
Manager, and the Demagogue--they are, to varying degrees, part of each of
us and are present in most organizations and communities. These three faces
highlight the choices that each of us must make about how we as leaders
will deal with differences.
The Mediator represents a leadership approach that transforms differences
into opportunities. These are leaders who can take care of even the most
challenging situations. The Manager model is limited by its own identity.
While Managers do not actively use and leverage difference for bad,
destructive ends, these leaders are
often imprisoned by their own job definition. The third type is the
Demagogue. The Demagogue uses fear of difference as a lever with which to
gain more power. Leaders who use this approach wield their power in
destructive ways in countless leadership contexts.

Why should individuals invest in learning how to be better mediators?
I wrote Leading Through Conflict to make the skills of the mediator more
to every person who wants to deal more effectively and creatively with the
in his or her life. Whether we are leaders in government, in business
enterprises, or
in civic organizations such as churches, hospitals, or schools, we will be
more effective
if, in addition to managerial skills, we have mediation skills. By learning
about the leader as mediator, we will profoundly raise the level of our own
and that of others around us as well.
Why do you view being a competent manager as a potentially negative
Let me be clear about this: Competent managers do much to making a better
and to making our lives more pleasant and productive. Professionally, these
want to contribute to their organization or community; personally, they
want to succeed.
Their strength is that, within firm and fairly constant boundaries, they
achieve excellence.
Unfortunately, the limitations of this model of leadership are as
significant as its
strengths. The focus of the Manager is on "us." Managerial leaders are
that "our people" do well--but what happens to "them," those who are
their jurisdiction, is not of their concern. Consequently, Managers often
defensive, combative, or paralyzed when they face "cross-boundary", or
problems. Today's world is the Manager's nightmare because so many current
leadership challenges cross boundaries. Leaders simply cannot deal with
of the challenges they face if they act like ordinary Managers. In fact, as
I demonstrate
in the book, they will make matters worse.
Take the U.S. Congress, for example. When our representatives behave like
Democrats or Republicans, and turn every piece of legislation into a war
for partisan
advantage, they fail as leaders. What is needed are Mediators who can
bridge partisan differences and create legislation that works for the whole
country, not just
a political party.

From the Inside Flap

Today more than sixty-three thousand transnational companies operate
globally with over eight hundred thousand subsidiaries spanning the planet.
They employ more than ninety million people and produce 25 percent of the
world's GNP. Leading across these enormous and complex global differences
is now essential to leaders, both in business and in public life.
Increasingly, leaders are responsible to a wide range of stakeholders who
are often scattered around the world and at the same time are juggling
numerous cross-border constituencies. Effective leaders today must develop
the skills for turning these differences into opportunities--or they simply
won't succeed. In Leading Through Conflict: How Successful Leaders
Transform Differences into Opportunities (Harvard Business School Press;
May 8, 2006), facilitation leadership expert Mark Gerzon provides a new
model of leadership that puts conflict at the center, as an essential test
of leadership. Distilling the essential principles of the new kind of
leadership needed to face the challenges of increasingly global economics
and politics, Gerzon shows how to turn conflict into an asset rather than a
liability. Through interviews with scores of leaders around the world,
Gerzon has studied closely how leaders have transformed some of the most
challenging, intractable conflicts of our time. He identifies three faces
of leadership--the Mediator, who is able to transform differences into
opportunities; the Manager, who possesses a limited perspective because of
jurisdiction and project scope; and the Demagogue, who uses fear of
difference as a way to gain more power. To lead effectively, he states,
you are compelled to become a Mediator--to negotiate--to listen to the
other's interests and needs and to fashion an outcome that works for all
sides. As organizations and societies gradually flatten themselves from
pyramids into networks, the form of decision making shifts from vertical to
horizontal, from giving orders to negotiation. To help individuals become
better Mediators--in both professional and personal settings--Gerzon has
identified eight essential tools, showing how to put them into practice
including: integral vision, systemic thinking, presence, inquiry, conscious
conversation, dialogue, bridging, and innovation. In Leading Through
Conflict, Gerzon maps out the challenges, inspires with real-life examples
from around the world, and outlines practical tools needed
to be able to turn the differences we all face into opportunities for
ourselves and others.

Inside This Book (Learn More)
First Sentence
Whether we like it or not, wariness or fear of difference is part of human nature. Read the first page
Explore More
Browse Sample Pages
Front Cover | Copyright | Table of Contents | Excerpt | Index | Back Cover
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover
Gerzon type casts two leadership styles to be knocked down and replaced by another. The Demagogue and Manager to be replaced by the Mediator. This may be desirable given that the context is "leading through conflict". Though, by referring to the likes of Hitler as Demagogue an extreme bogey man is created. Rather, each needs to see the demon in themselves. In truth, most leaders have demagogic moments, sometimes appropriately, most do lead managerially during neutral times. For me, this was a poor start.

The case for a Mediator spirit, and actions to support Mediation is well made and the book gets better as it goes along. Gerzon offers eight tools that contribute to being a Mediator: Integral Vision, Systems Thinking, Presence, Inquiry, Conscious Conversation, Dialogue, Bridging and Innovation. Conscious Conversation and Dialogue were close enough to be conflated. Most of these tools are well rehearsed in other contexts, but the one that caused me to think most was the idea of 'Presence' - the commitment of the whole being to the situation in hand. Too often we try and deal with situations while conscious of other distractions. Indeed while I was reading the TV was on, Lap not far away and iPhone bleeping, maybe its just me that has these difficulties.

One quote that I will ever be grateful for is on page 30: "ultimately leadership is about something more than whether a company is profitable, or a political party victorious. It is about whether good or evil grows."

Also profound is the quote from Vaclav Havel: "Education is the ability to perceive the hidden connections between phenomena" (Page 31) Little wonder then that one of the final conclusions is for conflict resolution to be an actively taught skill in schools.

There are plenty of suggestions to make the work transformational.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)

Amazon.com: 13 reviews
9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
An outstanding presentation of the business leadership ideas of Mark Gerzon 2 Jun. 2006
By Midwest Book Review - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover
Leading Through Conflict: How Successful Leaders Transform Differences Into Opportunities is an outstanding presentation of the business leadership ideas of Mark Gerzon (President of Mediators Foundation). Showcasing his experience-based approaches to creating a more productive and confluent environment throughout for corporate managers and administrators engaged in an organizational struggle or situational conflict, Leading Through Conflict offers an expert commentary on the three principle forms of leadership (demagogue, manager, mediator), and eight principle tools used in mediation for conflict resolution, Leading Through Conflict is very highly recommended as an expert study into handling conflict any business or any other type of organizational setting.
5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
Building Community through Leadership 31 May 2007
By David Gerard - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover
Mark Gerzon's Leading Through Conflict is a primer for leaders interested in developing eight clearly-defined competencies that are required for effective leadership in any situation. Because of Gerzon's international consciousness and life experience, he is able to crisply distill the essential factors a leader must grapple with in order to get agreement. While you may have heard some of these competencies before--such as systems thinking, inquiry, or bridging--it is the way Gerzon positions and integrates these concepts that gives this book its unique value add. Moreover, the author includes and explicitly describes five to six tips for actually practicing each of these competencies. This book is so valuable that I not only use it in all of my leadership development classes, but I also provide it to every executive and leader I coach. Despite its depth of insight, this book is easy to read, but it is the type of book a leader will want to read several times. The book's numerous embedded pearls of wisdom, due in part to Gerzon's anecdotes ranging from local school board meetings to the World Economic Forum, are points that leaders will want to remember as they face conflicts every day.
5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
Hands-on advice about handling conflict. 23 Nov. 2006
By Rolf Dobelli - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover
We highly recommend this outstanding contribution to the literature of leadership. Author Mark Gerzon offers not just a how-to guide for resolving conflict, but a handbook for changing the way leaders think about it. The author doesn't fear being opinionated and is clearly an idealist. Yet, his idealism is strongly grounded in, though not limited by, the practical. This is a guide to action, not a theoretical discourse. Many of the tools Gerzon identifies and describes have much broader application than just organizational conflict management. Indeed, leaders who thoroughly master such mental dispositions as "integral vision" and "presence" can do more than solve conflicts; they can help prevent them.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
A discussion of the leader as mediator 27 July 2008
By Erik Gfesser - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
In this work, Mark Gerzon presents what he views as the three faces of leadership (the demagogue, the manager, and the mediator), followed by a discussion of eight leadership tools for the mediator: integral vision, systems thinking, presence, inquiry, conscious conversation, dialogue, bridging, and innovation. The author states at the outset in his introduction that he wrote this book because "although conflict is built into our commercial and civic institutions, the skills for dealing with it are rarely taught". According to Gerzon, the demagogue "leads through fear, threats, and intimidation", "turns opponents into scapegoats", "uses lies and propaganda to dehumanize the other", and "resorts to violence to dominate or destroy the other". The author admittedly refers to extreme demagogues in order that this archetype be contrasted with the other two within the discussion, and although some of the individuals chosen are a bit tiresome, he makes his points well. The manager "operates based on an exclusive, limited definition of 'us'", "defines purpose in terms of the self-interest of his or her own group", "cannot or will not deal with issues, decisions, or conflicts that cross boundaries", and "is productive and effective only on home turf". It is within his discussion on managers that Gerzon starts to introduce small case study scenarios to illustrate the concepts being presented, and the remaining chapters follow this instructive pattern. The mediator "strives to act on behalf of the whole, not just a part", "thinks systematically and is committed to ongoing learning", "builds trust by building bridges across the dividing lines", and "seeks innovation and opportunity in order to transform conflict". The remaining chapters that focus on the eight leadership tools each conclude with several pages of tips that discuss how to apply what the author presents. For example, the first tool chapter, on integral vision, presents the following tips: "check your vision", "don't replace one border with another", "watch your language", "go to the balcony", "develop maturity of mind", and "learn to see through walls". In my opinion, the chapter on conscious conversation is especially well written. Included in this chapter is Table 8-1 which presents the eight forms of discourse (verbal brawling, debate, presentation/Q&A, discussion, negotiation, council, dialogue, and reflective silence), Figure 8-3 which presents ground rules to create a safe environment for open conversation, and Figure 8-4 which maps the forms of discourse to the demagogue, manager, and mediator. The chapter on dialogue furthers the discussion on discourse by its inclusion of Table 9-1, which compares debate and dialogue. Interestingly enough, the appendix was included for "all of us who lose our tempers" and for "those calmer souls who have to deal with people like us". Essentially, the appendix provides, in just 9 pages, some succinct principles for situations where time is of the essence. My only real criticism of this book is that the author evidently is not concerned about sharing his political bias within a discussion where one would think such bias would be a little less transparent. After a while, this bias gets a bit tiresome, much like his examples in the first chapter, but because this text was so well thought out this quality does not detract from the substance of the book.
Contains many examples and applicable techniques 11 Mar. 2015
By J.Ilog - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover
The below reviews give an realistic portrayal of this well thought out book about conflict resolution.

5 star:
Eric Gfesser (July 27, 2008) & David Gerard (March 31, 2007)

3 star:
Barry Davis (May 20, 2011). This is the most accurate one.

The traits of a Demagogue are provided on pp.18-20, making this part of the book 5 star worthy.

p. 138 provides 9 techniques to improve one's listening skills.

p.235 provides guidelines for when a conflict unexpectedly occurs.

The author uses the ideas & quotes of Mandela, Buddha, Lao Tzu, Gandhi, Lincoln, Thomas Jefferson, Daniel Goleman and many others to serve as a foundation for his argument.

He stresses the importance of using the Myers-Briggs Type Indicatior, the Kouzes-Posner Leadership Practices Inventory and other personality profiles to help a leader improve their own self-awareness and Emotional Quotient, in general.

With over 75 ideas that I wrote down to be used for this review, I will provide a few here.

On its purpose: "Leading through conflict involves facing differences honestly and creatively, understanding their full complexity and scope, and enabling those involved to move toward original solutions. Such leadership requires going beyond the powerful, primordial responses to difference that result in an 'us versus them' mentality. It requires capacities that many leaders have never developed, bringing to bear both personal and professional skills that turn serious conflicts into rewarding opportunities for collaboration and innovation."

The definition of a conflict: "...usually consist of genuine differences compounded by stuck positions, fixed attitudes, hardened identities, and closed hearts. If words are going to make any difference at all, they had better be the right ones, in the right tone, and at the right time. Otherwise, the chances are they will do nothing to improve the situation and might even make matters worse."

On the benefits of being a mediator: "...leaders who are Mediators will outperform those who are because they know how to build partnerships and alliances that are the key to enduring success. These partnerships are more likely to be sustained and to be effective if they meet three criteria. Equity (not equality) means that everyone has an equal right to be at the table regardless of their social status or financial clout. Transparency requires that working relationships be open, honest, and accountable, and therefore more likely to build trust. Mutual benefit challenges the partnership to obtain specific results for every partner, thus increasing the likelihood that all the key stakeholders will stay committed to achieving the shared goals. Taken together, these three characteristics--equity, transparency, and mutual benefit--tremendously increase the chances that bridging relationships will lead to innovation."
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