To achieve Step 6, individuals will show that they can manage disagreements towards achieving shared solutions.
In the previous step, the focus was on how to set up and manage a group discussion in the format of a meeting. This step focuses on when there are disagreements, how these can be positive opportunities, and how to work towards a shared solution.
The building blocks of this step are learning:
It is easy to fall into the trap of imagining that all disagreements are unhelpful. We might believe that it is much better if everyone immediately agrees what the right thing is to do and gets onto it. Sometimes this is the case, particularly for routine or straightforward decisions.
However, when trying to decide on something more complicated, it can be damaging to all just agree with one another. This risk is called groupthink.
Groupthink occurs because people tend to want to agree with each other. It is much more pleasant than arguing, and the more it seems that everyone agrees with each other, the more difficult it will be for any individual to disagree with the rest of the group. It might also be that group members believe the decision has already been made. In this case, there is little to gain by questioning or disagreeing with what is proposed.
There are lots of examples of when groupthink has led to bad decisions. These bad decisions occur because there are often good reasons for people to disagree:
If shared well, these disagreements are healthy and helpful and a good leader will encourage their team to contribute to discussions and actively encourage different views and perspectives. This giving permission for people to disagree is essential – the leader should be clear that they are not fixed on the answer before the conversation has taken place.
While disagreements are often helpful when built into conversation well, they can be harmful if the timing or way they are delivered is wrong. Some times that differences become negative include when:
An essential part of a leader’s role is to resolve disagreements to achieve reasonable, shared solutions. There are several steps to doing this effectively:
In education, there will be occasions when we have to work with others to reach a shared decision. Disagreements can be challenging when we are learning the early steps of Leadership and therefore mastering this step is essential. Disagreements in educational settings may arise when planning activities, for example, charity events or agreeing a class project. Even simple decisions, such as confirming a name for a team can create disagreements and upsets. It is important that disagreements are managed rather than avoided.
In the workplace, disagreements within a group may arise because the members of the group have different priorities. For example, a group trying to make a decision about the timing of a product launch may include people from different departments, each with different expectations of a workable time frame and perhaps limitations not known by other departments. It is important the disagreements are managed so that one realistic and achievable plan can be agreed, which suits the whole organisation.
Disagreements can arise socially, for example, friends may wish to do different things on their Friday evening together. Confidence in this step of Leadership will enable you to manage any disagreements and reach a conclusion which enables everyone to enjoy the experience together. Careful management is essential to ensure individuals feel involved and in agreement and not isolated or left out.
To best practise this step of Leadership, apply what you have learnt to a real-life situation. Choose one or more of the activities below, remind yourself of the key points and strategies in the step, and have a go!
To teach this step:
This step lends itself well to being reinforced in the classroom. For example, when there are interesting or controversial topics, learners could be asked to take a view as a group, and this will give them a chance to air different perspectives and then to try to reconcile them. The teacher could provide learners with differing pieces of information to encourage discussion.
This step is best assessed through observing an activity like that outlined above. The teacher should look for evidence that the leader sees the value of disagreements and actively encourages different contributions. This can be supplemented by a reflection conversation or written reflection, where the learner thinks about how they used some of the approaches outlined above.
This skill step is useful to all individuals who work with others.
To build this step in the work environment, managers could:
There are plenty of opportunities for building this skill in the workplace:
For those already employed, this step is best assessed through questioning and observation. For instance:
During the recruitment process, this step could be assessed by:
We work with a wide range of organisations, who use the Skills Builder approach in lots of different settings – from youth clubs, to STEM organisations, to careers and employability providers.
We have a lot of materials available to support you to use the Skills Builder Universal Framework with the individuals you work with, including:
We also do a lot of work with organisations who join the Skills Builder Partnership to build the Universal Framework into their work and impact measurement systems. You can find out a lot more using the links below.
At home, you can easily support your child to build their essential skills. The good news is that there
are lots of ways that you can have a big impact, including: