High-Performance Collaboration – Leadership, Teamwork, and Negotiation

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July 20, 2022

Leadership & Behavioral Interview 

Introduction to the Organizational Leadership

Leaders who can thrive while building strong organizations and creating lasting value. Now the topic of leadership has never been more important. We live in a time of profound change, when the scale and complexity of organizations is greater than ever before. And we need people who are equipped to lead these organizations.

Great leadership’s all about the people who know how to build effective, resilient organizations. Organizations that don’t lose their edge.

It’s important to emphasize that being an effective leader is not about where you sit in an organization. But about how other people view you. Other people determine whether you’re a leader, not your title.

Great leadership is all about motivating and inspiring other people to bold and effective action. Now, to do that, there are two things you need to focus on.

The first is clarity of purpose. Great leaders bring an unbelievable focus, to what they’re doing at work and why they’re doing it. This is because, no matter where you are in an organization, you have to know what your job is, and who benefits when you do your job well. You have to be clear about why you go to work each day. What your role is. How you can deliver on that. In a corporate setting, good ideas are those that reflect a deep understanding of customers’ needs and goals. Now this is because in life, every one of us has a customer, we have to make happy. Whether it’s your spouse, a parent, a child, maybe it’s your best friend and at work we all have customers all the time. Even internally within our own teams. These are the people whose needs we have to consider, so the clearer we are about whose needs we’re here to meet, the more focused we’ll be when we’re at work. Despite the endless streams of emails, information and data that come at us every day.

The second theme, Effective Collaboration. The rarest skill is the ability to solve problems by working across traditional boundaries. Now these may be the boundaries that divide us into functional silos, business units, countries, or cultures. But that ability to cross those boundaries I call a deep collaboration. It’s not about being a team player or even a team builder. It’s about being a bridge builder. And it’s that ability to collaborate not just in your day to day workplace but across boundaries that surround you. That’s critically important.

Perspectives on Leadership

Leadership requires the ability to look at complex problems and to uncover root causes. To see the central idea in a sea of issues. However, leadership is more than chasing and solving problems. To either see new possibilities where others are not looking. And recognize when new ideas can have broad implications.

These two core skills, problem solving and imagining the future, can be addressed through one process, design innovation. At it’s core, most basic level, design innovation starts with a clear understanding of the end user. It uses as systematic process to uncover the real problem behind the perceived problem. In design, the majority of the time is spent on building understanding, because there is no big price for solving correctly what turns out to be the wrong question. Through the design process we build, test and iterate, all while keeping the end user in mind. Design innovation empowers leaders to develop meaningful solutions, create value, and envision new possibilities. At the very highest level, design unlocks creativity and the ability to imagine a new future. Design also serves as an important counterbalance to an overly analytical mindset. It is not an either or proposition. You need both analysis and creativity. But combining these two will empower the development of transformative ideas. It is something that we call whole brain thinking.

We need accurate information to make decisions, and we need to communicate well to be leaders. Your story, how you connect with internal and external groups, can be a key to the success of your organization. And great story tellers can lead groups through challenges, away from conflict, and toward innovation.

I’m acutely aware of the connection between well-executed communication and effective leadership. As a leader you need to be able to articulate an effective vision for your organization, and help others adopt and implement it. And while these days a leader has many possible ways of sharing ideas with others in his or her organization. In the end a leader’s effectiveness will turn on the ability to influence others through persuasion.

Introduction to Leadership Module

There are three key cornerstones to leadership, and it starts with you. The first one is all about you becoming a leader. The second is collaboration and teams ultimately we take a deep dive into negotiations and conflict management.

Everyone is able to overcome nature through practice, learning, dedication, and motivation.

An enduring question when it comes to leadership is, are leaders born? Or are they made? There are two dominant theories.

Entity theory, also known as trait theory, or the great man theory of leadership, argues that leadership is a trait, or set of abilities that one is either born with, or not.

Incremental theory argues that leadership is not a trait, but rather, an acquired skill, and is highly influenced by the environment.

The firm belief that anyone who is intent upon improving their leadership can improve dramatically.

Mindset and Growth

According to Carol Dweck, there are two fundamental mindsets that people have when it comes to looking at themselves and others. She calls these Fixed and Growth mindsets.

People who have a fixed mindset believe that intelligence, personality, talents, and skills are largely carved in stone and unchangeable. In some situations, this could set one’s self up for success or guaranteed failure. People with fixed mindsets don’t like trying new things because the risk of failure looms large.

In contrast, people who have a growth mindset don’t see intelligence, personality, talent, and skills as fixed or stable. Rather, they see themselves as having potential, and even more important, they see others as having potential.

What are the implications of a growth versus fixed mindset?

First in terms of bouncing back from hardship, people who have a growth mindset are more resilient.

Second in terms of happiness, people with growth mindsets are happier and less depressed.

Third in terms of facing challenge and adversity people with growth mindsets are more persistent.

Let’s talk about failure for a moment. Failures are unpleasant, but they grab our attention and focus us to integrate new information.

According to post-traumatic growth theory, we should hope for exposure to failure early and often.

As leaders, we can cultivate growth mindsets in our teams by how we describe challenges as a test of DNA or as an opportunity to learn. Knowing how to fail is a key leadership skill.

Leadership Style

According to McGregor there are two fundamentally different kinds of leadership styles, Theory X and Theory Y.

Theory X leadership is largely transactional. Meaning that leaders believe people are fundamentally not motivated and they need to be offered incentives or punishments to perform. Theory X leaders believe that people need to be monitored, and that good work should be rewarded, and bad work or lack of work needs to be punished. All of this amounts to a tit-for-tat culture.

Theory Y leadership, which is based on the outlandish idea that people want to contribute and are self motivated to perform good work. Theory Y leaders are transformational, meaning that they inspire people to excel and contribute, not by administering rewards and punishments, but by empowering others and giving them authority. This creates a gift culture, where people are not adding up cost and benefits, but they are actively contributing to the enterprise.

Another question, when it comes to leadership is, should managers focus on getting the work done or attending to the people?

Task-focused leaders are highly agentic and focus on getting the work done, meeting performance objectives, and being productive.

In contrast, person-focused leaders care about the people, their welfare, and seek to build trusting relationships with them.

Blake and Mouton’s leadership grid to explore five possible types of leaders.

The Authority-Obedience Manager is high task, low people. The Authority-Obedience leader focuses so much on the task, that people often don’t feel appreciated.

The Country-Club leader focuses so much on the people that no work is getting done.

The Impoverished leader is low people, low task, and is not really doing anything.

Team Managers are high people and high task. Team leaders focus both on the people and the work to be done.

Most of us tend to be Middle of the Road Managers. We know we should be attending to the task and the people, but we’re falling short.

Hershey and Blanchard realized that because organizations and companies face different challenges and situations change, leaders need to be ready to respond, pivot and adjust. So they developed the Situational Leadership Model.

According to the Situational Leadership Model, leaders need to consider the readiness of their team in regard to the task.

If your team is not ready to perform the task, low readiness, leaders need to be very directing, what Blake and Mouton referred to as authority obedience leadership.

If teams are very ready, leaders can delegate because the team can handle the rest.

When team members are moderately ready when it comes to the task, leaders can do more supporting and coaching.

Intrinsic and Extrinsic Motivation

Intrinsic motivation refers to motivation and desire that is driven by internal rewards which can be a sense of satisfaction, accomplishment, or making the world a better place.

Extrinsic motivation refers to motivation and desire that is driven by the promise of external rewards including money, resources, or material gain.

How might leaders use intrinsic goals to motivate employees?

First, there are two fundamental types of motivations, intrinsic and extrinsic.

Second, most leaders falsely believe others are exclusively motivated by extrinsic reasons but that they themselves are uniquely by motivated by intrinsic reasons.

Third, failing to affirm intrinsic interest can undermine motivation.

Finally, affirming intrinsic motivation can lead to greater insight and better performance.

The How of Happiness

It’s important to realize that happiness is not a state that we fall into. Rather, evidence indicates that happiness can be a cultivated activity.

Let’s first talk about the determinants of happiness.

By some accounts, 50% of your overall happiness is genetically determined. In other words, that means each of us may have a set point.

Only about 10% of happiness is determined by life circumstances. AKA, material wealth, marriage, employment status, income, and possessions. Buying that new Tesla certainly does make us happy for about two weeks. But then we quickly adjust and adapt. Why? It’s because of something known as the hedonic treadmill, meaning once we acquire a new salary or a new possession, we experience a noticeable increase in pleasure. We’re thrilled. We’re excited. However, very quickly, in about one to two weeks, we adapt to those new pleasures. And then we feel like we need to capture the next car, the next house, the next job.

Now the best news, 40% of our happiness is determined by intentional activity. Behaviors and practices that we voluntarily pursue, such as helping others, adopting a positive attitude. Exercise and striving for goals. These behaviors are strongly resistant to the effects of adaptation.

Happy people perform better at work.

Happy people are less likely to get sick.

Happy people are less likely to suffer from debilitating diseases.

Happy people are better organizational citizens.

And, happy people have better social relationships.

Unhappy people are absent more often from work.

They change jobs more often.

They’re less cooperative.

They’re less helpful.

And they perform worse.

They negatively affect the loyalty of customers and clients.

Leaders with positive moods were particularly contagious and effected the positivity of others and their groups.

Okay, so what to do? Treat happiness like your exercise routine. Commit to it, and work on it.

Decision Making

Human overconfidence, a type of egocentric bias. The unwarranted belief in one’s own decision prowess.

The fact is, most people are wildly overconfident about their decision-making abilities.

Unfortunately, the biases that leaders and managers hold, can wreak havoc on their teams. Let’s talk about five biases and how to neutralize them.

The framing effect. According to Nobel laureate Danny Kahneman, most decision-makers are risk-averse when it comes to good things. Making money, saving lives. But are risk-seeking when it comes to negative things. This may seem like a harmless quirk of human behavior, but the framing effect means that you can be easily manipulated or manipulate others.

Confirmation bias, is essentially the tendency for people to seek information that confirms what they want to believe. The problem at the core was the fact that leaders turned a blind eye to signs and signals that they didn’t want to see.

Decision fatigue. Did you know that the very act of making decisions produces fatigue? However unlike physical exertion where we know we are tired, leaders are often unaware that they are mentally fatigued and they become organizationally dangerous. For this reason, truly effective leaders know their limits.

The team scaling fallacy. As team size increases, people increasingly underestimate the number of labor hours required to complete the project. Did you know that most projects are delivered late and over budget? The remedy is to base forecasts on milestones, not the entire project and factor in obstacles.

Common information effect is the tendency for groups to discuss information that they all have in common, rather than unique information. The teams had a bias toward discussing information, clues, and assumptions they had in common. They were much less likely to discuss information they were uniquely aware of. Their remedy is to suspend initial judgment, consider the alternatives one at a time, and find out who has information that is not shared by all group members.

Think about a decision you’re making or facing right now. Leaving your job, buying a company, starting a new venture. Here are four action steps.

First, build in tests of disconfirmation. What could prove you wrong? Reward team members for providing controversial data.

Two, set up policies in advance of obtaining outcomes.

Three, bring in outsiders to evaluate, but don’t tell them your preferred course of action.

Finally, turn off the email inbox so you’re not tempted to divert your attention or make trivial decisions before facing a big decision.

Emotional Intelligence

I want you to think about the best boss, leader, or mentor you’ve ever had, past or present, okay? Do you have that person in mind? Good, what key quality did this leader possess that was so important for you? I’ve asked this question in many of my executive courses, and no one has ever said my best boss was really intelligent, or my boss had a perfect GMAT score. Instead, they mention people skills.

Leaders are judged, not just by how smart they are, but how they handle themselves and others. The skill that involves how to work with other people and how to manage yourself is known as emotional intelligence.

There are four skills of emotional intelligence, self awareness, other awareness, also known as empathy, self management, and relationship management.

Self-awareness is all about understanding ourselves and seeing ourselves as others see us. People who are high in self-awareness recognize the emotions they experience, the factors that lead to these emotions, and how they are perceived by others. A 360-Degree Evaluation is a modern day form of organizational torture.

Self-management focuses on how to appropriately regulate our emotions, particularly negative ones. According to emotional intelligence guru Daniel Goleman of Harvard, people often have Amygdala Hijacks which are, essentially, adult temper tantrums. An Amygdala Hijack occurs when people exhibit an emotional response that is immediate, overwhelming and out of measure with the actual stimulus. Self-Management or self-regulation of negative emotions is a key leadership skill, perhaps even a key survival skill in the age of the ever present video camera and cell phone.

Successful leaders have self implemented their own way to deal with frustration, anger, etc., before it becomes an ill-fated, career defining move. For example, one senior leader at a national laboratory takes his dog on a walk before responding to emails that are upsetting. Another senior leader at a major company meditates for 30 minutes every day. Yet another leader engages in cognitive reappraisal. She identifies the situation she is facing that is most disconcerting or upsetting. For example, instead of looking at an upcoming job interview as a test of her ability, she redefines it as a chance to network.

What are the implications for leadership? First, emotional intelligence starts with self-awareness. Second, people who are high in self-awareness are more empathic. Finally, you can improve your ability to self-regulate with rehearsal and practice.

Organizational Intelligence

Jim McNerney, CEO of Boeing, states that the biggest jump into the CEO job is learning to manage what you can’t control having been trained to manage what you can control.

Your human capital is the sum total of your skills, talents, and abilities, based upon your education and experience. This is what is often found on resumes. Your organizational capital is the value you bring to your organization in terms of the relationships you build and maintain in and outside of the organization.

Organizational charts are rather crude depictions that reveal the chain of command and reporting relationships. However, as many managers can attest, the way that work actually gets done and information gets spread within an organization is a far cry from published organizational charts. Instead, informal systems of connections and relationships developed over time, guide the flow of information. Let’s call these informal networks.

Let’s look at two hypothetical people who have the same job in the same organization.

Ed has about four trusted advisors. Who he seeks for counsel and advice. Those trusted advisors are connected to each other as well. Thus, this is a very dense network. Ed has a network of relatively close colleges most likely from the same functional unit. This type of close knit self-contained network ia a clique network of closed-loop network. In the closed-loop network the members know one another quite well and communication is largely redundant.

Mike’s network is very different.

First, Mike’s network is much less tightly knit than Ed’s network.

Second, Mike’s network spans what appears to be more functional units than Ed’s network.

Mike also has about the same number of trusted advisors. But, unlike Ed’s network, Mike’s trusted advisors are not directly connected to each other. Instead, they are connected to each other through Mike.

Finally, Mike’s network is more structurally unique than Ed’s. This means that Mike has relationships with people that no one else has.

There are some leadership and communication lessons to be learned here.

First, people who span organizational divides and integrate knowledge and best practices around the organization are known as boundary-spanners. They are the Mikes of the organization, and they connect people and ideas.

Second, the gaps in organizations are structural holes, and unless people like Mike are filling them, knowledge is literally falling through the cracks, and we have silos in the organization.

Third, the structural holes that exist between people, functional units, and teams represent opportunities for leaders. Indeed boundary spanners with larger networks of otherwise disconnected contacts get promoted earlier than comparable managers with smaller networks of interconnected contacts.

What can you do to increase your own organizational intelligence?

First and foremost, analyze your own organizational network. Who are your trusted advisors?

Second, who are your boundary-spanners. Who are the Mikes in your own network? Are you nurturing those relationships, or are you letting them stagnate?

Finally, where are the structural holes in your organization? How can you act as a bridge between people and groups that should be connected? But are not.

Cultural Intelligence

What is culture? Culture is the personality of a group. Cultural intelligence according to Professor Chris Earley, is a persons capability to adapt effectively to new cultural contexts. The risk of talking about culture is that we may fall prey to stereotyping people.

A stereotype is a faulty belief that everyone from a given group or given culture is the same. No one wants to be stereotyped. Instead, let’s talk about prototypes when it comes to culture. A prototype is a central tendency. In other words, a prototype acknowledges that there may be a norm in a given culture, but there is variation and dispersion around that norm.

Let’s think about culture like an iceberg. As you know, about one-ninth of an iceberg is exposed above the water. Eight-ninth’s is below the surface. When we meet someone from a different culture, we see their appearance and behaviors. We don’t see their values, beliefs, and norms.

Let’s talk about three key cultural prototypes, as identified by Professor Jean Brett in her book Negotiating Globally, face, honor, and dignity cultures.

Face cultures are primarily East Asia, but not exclusively. People from face cultures derive their self worth from earning the respect of others. If you agree with statements like, people should be humble to maintain good relationships, and, it is important to never criticize others, particularly superiors in public. You embrace the face culture. In terms of confrontation style, face cultures are indirect and will usually refer to superiors. With regard to power and status, people in face cultures are often embedded in stable, hierarchical relationships.

Dignity cultures are primarily Europe North America, Australia, and New Zealand, but not exclusively. There are always exceptions. People who embody the dignity culture believe strongly in speaking their mind and being self-reliant. Their own self worth is self determined and they are very comfortable engaging in direct, rational, fact-based conversation. Status and titles are not nearly as important for people in dignity cultures, as information and talent. Our cultural values affect how we motivate people in our organizations. A small Texas corporation seeking to elevate productivity told its employees to look into the mirror each day and say, I am beautiful, 100 times before coming to work. Dignity culture. Employees of a Japanese owned company in New Jersey were instructed to begin the day by holding hands, and telling each other that he or she is beautiful. Face culture.

Honor cultures are primarily in the Middle East, South Asia, North Africa, and Latin America. Self-worth in honor cultures is socially claimed. The confrontation style of honor cultures is to express emotion, and if necessary, take matters into your own hands. If you agree with statements like, people need to defend their family, and, it is important not to let others insult your reputation, you embrace the honor culture.

There are three primary cultural personalities, learn to recognize them. Some of us are multicultural. It is vital to realize that your own cultural beliefs may not be embraced by others. Decide how much you are willing to change when communicating globally.


We’re going to raise three questions about building teams.

First question! What is a team? If you said group of people, think again. A group is an aggregate of people. A team is an interdependent group of people working towards a shared goal. There are two key parts to that definition. Interdependent means that none of the team members can successfully accomplish the goal by themselves. They need each other. A shared goal means that all members have the same desired objective.

Second question. What are the key ingredients for team success? To be successful teams need three things. Expertise, engagement, and execution. Teams need talented people, expertise. They need to be motivated, engaged. And they need to get the work down, execute.

Third question, should all teams be designed the same way? The answer is no. Team design depends on what the goal of the team is. So, let’s talk about three types of goals that teams may have. To do this, we’re going to use Carl Larson and Frank Lafasto’s Typology of Teams to distinguish three types of work that teams do. Tactical, problem solving, and creative.

Tactical teams, like the surgical team, the flight crew, a basketball team need clarity and the more time they spend practicing together, the better they perform. The key for tactical teamwork is training together.

But sometimes we’re not simply on tactical mission. We’re trying to solve a problem. When the goal is to solve a problem that does not have a well defined solution, this is known as a problem-solving team. These teams need a lot of trust. When you ask people what they care about most in teams, they always say trust. There are two types of trust in teams. Benevolence based trust and competency based trust. Benevolence based trust means I trust your intentions. Competency based trust or respect means I trust your expertise. For problem solving teams to be effective you need both.

A third type of work that teams do is creative teamwork. Examples might be a new product development group or writing team. These teams need a lot of autonomy. For example, when Pixar makes a move like A Bugs Life or Toy Story 2, the development department assembles small incubation teams that are left alone to create. There are many problems and open questions.

Bottom line, as a team leader, know the goal of your team so you can set the stage for optimal performance.

Size and Diversity

It’s not enough to put your most talented people on the same team and just hope that magic happens.

I’ve done some research on team building, and I’ve made two alarming discoveries. First, the average team size is too big. According to nearly any standard or rule of thumb. Second, teams tend to be too homogenous. They lack diversity.

So if you’re ever lucky enough to build the team of your dreams, I want to help you avoid the two most common building errors, the Team-Overstaffing Bias And the Homogeneity Bias.

The overstaffing bias refers to the fact that teams are too large. Why is this? People wanna be politically correct and inclusive, so we’ve put everyone on a team and teams are no longer special. So what are some rules of thumb? Bare minimum rule, choose the fewest number of people necessary to accomplish the task.

The homogeneity bias refers to the fact that people unconsciously build teams that are, well, too much alike. Most people choose members based on personality, not expertise. Unconsciously, people are biased toward their own race. The ideal type of diversity is deep level diversity. Based on expertise, training, thinking styles, if you focus on superficial characteristics to the exclusion of deep level diversity, you unwittingly create what professor Keith Mernan calls a fault line.

A fault line is a dividing line that separates teams into distinct subgroups based on one or more attributes such as race, gender, functional area, etc. Faultlines in teams create an unhealthy us versus them culture.

How should leaders deal with faultlines?

First and foremost, diagnose them early. If you are thoughtful about building teams, you will realize it.

Second, create energy and excitement around the task. When team members are excited about the work, they’re not focused on superficial demographics.

Third, when conflict emerges, build trust. And remember, there are two types of trust. Benevolence based trust, and competency based trust. As your team member, I need to trust your instincts, and trust your expertise.

You get to build the dream team from the ground up. Best practices to keep in mind.

One, assemble the fewest number of people possible.

Two, create a grid with the potential people as the rows and their skills and competencies as the columns. For each person, ask yourself, what skills and expertise does this person uniquely bring to them?

Third, make sure you don’t have overlap. Avoid homogeneity.

Fourth, check for faultlines.

Finally, truth in disclosure. Diverse teams do have potential for more conflict. So we will need some conflict management skills in our dream team.

Roles and Rules

Have you ever been on a team in which there is a free rider? That’s an expression used to refer to the fact that some team members contribute a lot less than others on a team. And in my own research, I’ve discovered that a lack of engagement or free riding is the number one issue that keeps leaders up at night.

The question is how to prevent it from happening. The team charter is my favorite tool to combat free riders. The team charter is a living document that is written by all team members. There are three ingredients in the team charter, goals, responsibilities, and norms. By the way, it’s not going to work if the leader, or heaven forbid, senior management writes the team charter and voiced it on the team. The charter needs to be collectively authored by the team. Don’t let it exceed one page, and don’t put it in a file drawer. It should be in clear sight each time the team meets.

Goals, suppose you gave everyone on your team a Post-it note, or index card, and asked them to write a one sentence description of the team goal. Keep it anonymous, would you see overlap? Many leaders find that there’s little or no overlap. Teams would be a lot better served if they revisited their overarching goal at the beginning of each meeting.

Roles and responsibilities. Oftentimes, people are members of teams, but they don’t know why they’re there, and they don’t know who’s calling the shots. It’s far better to be explicit about roles and responsibilities.

I like using Richard Hackman’s model of team and leader responsibility.

Let’s start with manager-led teams. In a manager-led team, the team is responsible for executing the task, and the leader is responsible for selecting the team members and monitoring and managing performance processes.

Now let’s move to self-managing teams. In a self-managing team, the team not only executes the task, but they, not the leader, are in charge of monitoring and managing their own performance.

A third type of team is a self-directing team. Self-directing, also known as self-designing teams, do all the things that self-managing teams do. But in addition, they select, recruit, and staff the team. They have border control.

A fourth type of team is the self-governing teams. Self-governing teams do all the things that self-directing teams do, but in addition, they have some influence over the larger organization. For example, they may shape strategic direction and new initiatives.

What’s the ideal?

The answer is, depending upon your experience level as compared to that of your team, the organizational culture, how over-committed you are, and a variety of other factors, any one of these might be ideal.

If you are not transparent about your relationship with the team, the risk you take is that people will feel over-managed or under-led.

Rules of engagement, many teams never discuss rules of engagement. They simply let things evolve. This is very unadvisable because quite frankly, the least conscientious people will set bad norms. Did you know that norms are set within microseconds of a team’s first meeting? It is far better to be proactive.

Teams that declare we have no rules ultimately become paralyzed by dysfunctional norms. Far better to have clear rules of engagement. Let me give you one example of a team who set clear norms.

Well designed teams with poor leaders outperform poorly designed teams with good leaders.

Let’s sum up, it is never too late to develop a team charter. Treat the charter like a live plant, revisit it, adjust. What’s working? What’s not working? What should be added?

Evidence-Based Management

Teams should make decisions like scientists. Namely they should develop hypothesis, devise critical tests, and be data-driven rather than outcome driven.

What’s the alternative to evidence based management? It’s known as the advocacy method.

Thus, I want to distinguish inquiry from advocacy.

Inquiry means scientific hypothesis testing.

Advocacy means making an argument and attempting to support it.

A question I often like to ask leaders is, if you conduct an experiment and ultimately receive data that does not agree with your hypothesis, do you throw away the theory or do you throw your data?

Advocacy leaders throw away their data.

Inquiry leaders throw away their hypothesis and put their pride aside.

Let’s introduce some key principles that will help you lead your team to more effective decisions.

Number one, use debate norms versus politeness norms. Too often, we treat team meetings like social events or dinner parties. We are polite and we compliment one another. The Politeness Ritual refers to the fact that people often say nice things rather than what they really think. This may be fine for a social event, but not for making critical decisions about our organizations and companies.

Two, leave status at the and titles at the door. When status differences are present, those who are subordinate may be reluctant to offer their opinion.

Three, conduct private votes on sensitive important issues. People conform when voting publicly, but they speak their mind when voting privately.

Four, invite different perspectives. Some of you have heard of the term Devil’s Advocate. This is a person whose job it is to disagree with the group. The truth is, most groups don’t have a Devil’s Advocate, and when they do, they’re not very persuasive. If you are a Devil’s Advocate, it’s not enough to say, I disagree. Rather, it is vital to provide evidence that argues the counterpoint. It is far better to have a person who genuinely disagrees with the group speak up than a person who pretends to disagree with the group.

Five, hold multiple short meetings versus one long meeting. Most groups have meetings that are too long and too infrequent. It’s far better to have short frequent meetings than long infrequent meetings. Short, frequent meetings allow group members to assimilate information and challenge each others views.

Number six, show case failures. Failures give everyone lots of valuable information. And creates an environment in which teams and their leaders don’t fear failure. This is what is meant by the learning organization.

The problem with most learning organizations is that everybody wants to learn by observation, not by first hand experience. We all need to experience failure first hand.

Optimizing Conflict

Debate, conflict, and confrontation are necessary to make optimal decisions.

Foster positive debate.

Most people have been raised to believe that conflict and disagreement are bad and strain relationships. We’ve been told to get along and go along. However, this approach is really bad advice when it comes to decision-making.

Let’s distinguish two types of conflict, relationship conflict and task conflict.

Relationship conflict is personality-based conflict and it negatively affects group performance.

Task conflict refers to disagreements about the work to be done, not attacks on the people. Task conflict may help group performance. However, when improperly handled, task conflict can quickly escalate into relationship conflict.

Let’s suppose you notice that your team is suffering from relationship conflict. Tensions are high and grudges are being carried. What can you do? Let’s use Wagemen and Donnenfeld’s four-pronged approach.

Step one, team re-design. When you first notice conflict and tensions are high, examine the structure of the team. What is the environment like? Are the work tasks equitably distributed? How many people are on the team? Who do they report to?

Step two, team coaching. Sometimes conflict emerges from the norms and meeting style of the team.

Step three, conflict skills. Sometimes team members have different experiences with regard to conflict and expressing disagreement.

Step four, personal coaching. Suppose you’ve tried team redesign, team coaching, and teaching conflict skills, and you’ve still got a problem with a certain team member. At that point, you may want to get that person involved with personal coaching to work on specific skills.

Let’s sum up regarding conflict.

Number one, conflict is a sign of a high performance team.

Two, effective conflict management is a teachable skill.

Finally, as a leader you need to role model the kind of debate you want to have.

Virtual Teams

First, let’s distinguish three types of teams. Traditional, hybrid, and *virtual teams.

Traditional teams are physically close and spend much time together.

Purely virtual teams are never in the same place at the same time. They rely heavily on technology to communicate. Time zones are big challenges for these teams.

Hybrid teams are somewhere in between. They are sometimes co-located, but they often are spread out across the globe. Or, some members might be co-located, whereas other team members are not. These teams face a lot of challenges.

Let’s use Tuckman’s model of group development to derive some best practices to optimize your virtual or hybrid team. According to Tuckman, there are five stages of group development. Forming, storming, norming, performing, and adjourning.

Forming. Did you know that 90% of team members have disagreeing lists when asked to identify who is on their team? For this reason, it is important to be clear about the team boundaries. The smaller the team, the more likely trust will form. In terms of selection, talent trumps location. It is better to have the most talented person on the team than the person who is most convenient.

Storming. By storming we mean conflict. People on virtual teams often fall prey to the negativity effect. The lack of immediate visual feedback changes the signals the brain sends. Bottom line, this leads to more impulsive, aggressive behavior in virtual groups as compared to face to face interaction. For example, people deliver harsher feedback virtually than face to face, such as in performance reviews. And people are more likely to make threats when using email than face to face. People are more likely to interpret a positive message as neutral and a neutral message as negative.

What are some best practices to manage conflict in virtual teams.

First, humanize members. I often put pictures of team members in view when communicating electronically.

Second, humanize yourself. Put a mirror in front of yourself when communicating electronically so you can check your own body language.

Third, socialize before getting down to business. In our research, we found that five minutes of casual conversation sets the stage for future trust and understanding. Something that we call the schmooze or lose effect.

Norming. Establishing norms and rules of engagement is vital for virtual teams. Start by putting away the technology when meeting face to face. Taking a call or checking email, or any multitasking while in conversation with another person leads to a loss of trust and lower perceived professionalism. Did you know that the mere presence of a cell phone during a conversation hurts the relationship? Create a team charter, be clear about the mission. Appoint a team coach for meeting and relationship management. Appoint a technology coach to troubleshoot problems.

Performing. If you have established effective norms, you are ready to perform virtually. It is vital to check in on a weekly basis. Shorter, more frequent meetings are more effective in keeping the team on track, than longer infrequent meetings.

Adjourning. When the project ends, have a debrief session. My favorite government agency refers to these meetings as a hot wash. This is a time to focus on three things. What worked well? What did not work so well? And what should be different next time?

Creativity and Innovation

Creativity is the production of novel and useful ideas. Creativity is also known as ideation.

Innovation is the production of actual ideas in the form of products and services also known as implementation.

People put a lot more weight on innovation than creativity. In business, success is 5% strategy, 95% execution. Most people put too much emphasis on innovation, and forget ideation. However, every product starts with an idea.

I’m going to give you two models for measuring creativity, Guilford’s 3-factor model and Finke’s quadrant model.

According to Guilford, ideas can be evaluated in terms of fluency, flexibility, and originality.

Fluency refers to the volume of ideas. Highly creative team have a lot of ideas, they’re high in fluency. However, it is important to measure the number of ideas generated per person.

Flexibility, refers to how many different kinds of ideas a group has.

Originality means novelty. Technically, a given idea is deemed to be original if less than 5% of the population, or cohort, generates that idea. Ideas that are statistically rare can be more valuable. What does this all mean?

Flexibility is the key here.

Groups that are high in flexibility are also high in fluency and originality.

According to Finke, creative output can be evaluated in terms of two dimensions, creative versus traditional. And realistic versus idealistic.

Let’s look at these four quadrants.

Creative realism. High creativity and high realism. These are novel ideas that can work.

Creative idealism. High creativity and low realism. Novel ideas in an impractical context.

Conservative realism. Traditional ideas and high realism. Old, tried, and true ideas.

Conservative idealism. Traditional ideas and low realism, old ideas put in an impractical context.

What do you think is the most valuable quadrant? If you’re like most people, you want creative realism, ideas that are very original and can work.

In new product development, this would mean novel ideas that can work with existing supply chain, manufacturing capacities, and so on.

In science, it would mean ideas that are novel and explained all previous research.

Suppose you’re a leader of a product development group. You bring all your smartest people together and ask them to think of ideas that are very novel and very realistic.

What’s the problem? The problem is that most people will self-censor, meaning they won’t say anything because they’re editing and judging.

A far better idea is to encourage your team to generate ideas in all four quadrants.

First, creativity starts upstream of innovation.

Second, teams that generate a lot of ideas are more likely to have an idea that is original or high in creative realism.

Finally, encourage people to suggest ideas that are traditional, conservative, and politically incorrect.

In other words, allow the team to generate a high volume of ideas and set aside judgment.

Who’s More Creative, Groups or Individuals?

Who is more creative, individuals or teams? When I’ve asked this question to companies and leaders, nearly everyone votes for the team.

As it turns out, there’s over 50 years of research bearing on this question, and without exception the evidence is that individuals are more creative than teams.

There are four factors that lead groups to be less creative than individuals.

Number one, social loafing or free-riding. This is the tendency for a minority of people to do a majority of the team’s work while some people don’t contribute to the group. Note, social loafing becomes more of a problem as the team gets larger.

Two, conformity. This often occurs without conscious awareness when people bring their behavior in line with what they feel will win them acceptance in a group. Over time, members grow more similar to one another, homogeneity effect.

Three, production blocking. This refers to anything that interferes with a person’s ability to fully focus on the work. This includes having to listen to other people and be polite. It also includes having to take notes.

Four, performance matching. This refers to the fact that people in groups quickly converge on a group average. And the lowest performing members are particularly influential. We call this downward norm-setting.

As leaders, I want you to take charge of your creative team by introducing hybrid strategies and techniques.

Best Practices for Creativity

Brainwriting is not brainstorming. If brainstorming is the simultaneous verbal generation of ideas in a group, then brainwriting is the simultaneous written generation of ideas in a group.

This technique completely neutralizes the alpha dominate people. Because everybody is writing at the same time, no one can interrupt anyone.

Let’s talk about five more ideas to spark creativity in your team.

First, go for quantity, not quality. Although it seems counterintuitive, groups who set quantity goals, not only generate more ideas than groups who set quality goals or groups who set both quantity and quality goals, they also generate higher quality ideas. In other words, they have a greater percentage of their ideas judged to be of high quality, in the eyes of neutral judges. Thus, the way to get to quality, is to generate a lot of ideas, and then have some principle of selection.

Two, break it up. Did you know that over 70% of ideas emerge in the first half of a brainstorming session? Groups who take a brief break are more productive in terms of quantity and quality than groups who work for a solid amount of time. This means your group would be better served to do two 15-minute brainstorming sessions rather than one 30-minute session.

Three, change it up. Groups who underwent membership change, generated more ideas, and many more kinds of ideas, higher flexibility, than groups who stayed intact. Apparently membership change increases the ideas generated by the indigenous members of the group.

Four, stand up. People generate more creative responses when standing, and in particular, walking, than when sitting.

Five, Fess up. Teams that share embarrassing stories generate nearly 30% more ideas than teams who share a prideful story, or no story at all.

First, almost any intervention can improve creativity.

Second, the simplest strategy is to stand up and bifurcate the creative session into two distinct halves. I often challenge teams to double their creative output in the second half.

Finally, changing group composition by inviting outsiders can increase creativity.

Develop Your BATNA

No negotiator expects the counter party will accept their first offer. If the other party does accept your first offer. Then you’ve offered way to much. A very common negotiation debacle. That we call the winner’s curse. The winner’s curse occurs whenever your first offer is immediately accepted by the counter party.

BATNA is an acronym, and it stands for your best alternative to a negotiated agreement. Your BATNA is your backup plan. The course of action you can take if all else fails.

The stronger your BATNA, the more leverage you have in the negotiation.

I am going to give you three pieces of advice when it comes to BATNAs.

Number one. Don’t be passive about developing your BATNA. Be very proactive. You need to cultivate your BATNA. Treat it like a plant. Feed it, water it, grow it. BATNAs are dynamic.

Second, never reveal your BATNA to the counter-party. If you do, you give up all your leverage. Rather you want a signal that you have options without revealing their exact value.

Third, never lie about your BATNA. Many people are tempted to misrepresent their alternates by claiming to have offers that they don’t have. This is unethical and can backfire if the other party calls your bluff.

Your BATNA is a course of action that you are going to take, in the event that things don’t work out with your negotiation. BATNAs may be uncertain.

Reservation price or RP. If your BATNA is your best course of action outside of the negotiation. Your RP is the lowest amount you can agree to, or highest amount you can pay inside a negotiation.

A reservation price represents the exact monetary equivalent of your BATNA.

Number one, you always have a BATNA. Even if it means waiting and hoping.

Two, you should always try to improve your BATNA. Don’t be passive.

Three, you should never directly reveal your BATNA to the counter-party, otherwise you lose your leverage.

Four, signal to the other party that you have attractive options.

Finally, once you determine your BATNA, then you can devise your RP, your reservation price.

Target Points and Anchoring

If you do these three things you can best position yourself to succeed in negotiation.

Number one: set a target point.

Number two. Estimate the ZOPA.

Number three. Make an opening offer.

Let’s start with setting a target point. Your BATNA tells you when to walk. Not when to sign. What this means is that you don’t settle for the first set of terms that is better than your BATNA.

Your target point should be based on three things. Your interests, market conditions and information about the counter-party’s BATNA.

With regard to interests, you’ve gotta ask yourself what is really important to you. Your interests should drive your target.

Market conditions, most people do not conduct sufficient research regarding their negotiations. You wanna have better data. Or at least as good a data as the counter party. If you knew what the Counter-Party’s BATNA was, you have all of the leverage. Unfortunately, most people fail to do any research on the other party’s BATNA, when information about market conditions and competitors is often available. Of course, you will never know the other party’s BATNA. But even thinking about their BATNA can lead to a dramatic improvement in your own outcome.

Two, estimate the ZOPA. The ZOPA or Zone Of Possible Agreement is the positive or negative overlap between your reservation price and that of the counter-party. Let’s say, for example, that you would pay up to $190 for the sellers double triple bypass ticket, let’s say that the seller is secretly willing to accept $150. This means that the ZOPA is any price north of 150 and south of 190, it’s a $40 ZOPA.

Third make the opening offer. In fact, the person who make the first offer has a strategic advantage. Why? First offers act as anchors. They have gravitational pull.

If you are going to make the first offer, what should it be? The ideal opening offer should be on or near the other party’s reservation point. Why? If you make a wild ass offer, that’s a technical term, this results in the Chilling Effect. If you don’t ask for enough this results in the winners curse. By making an offer on or near the other parties reservation point you don’t insult them because they’re secretly willing to pay that amount.

Suppose they make the opening offer and not you. What to do? Best practice? Make sure you immediately counter offer with your opening offer. Do this in a relational fashion, not in a positional fashion.

First, do as much research as you can to set a target. Open first but only if you are prepared. Immediately re-anchor if they open first. Plan your opening offer and carry it out. Finally, never ask, is this negotiable? Always negotiate.

The Art of Concessions

The key to remember is that we negotiate in long-term relationships with people who have short-term memories.

As far as how to play the game of negotiation, I have four pieces of advice.

First, it is far better to make a large number of small concessions than a small number of large concessions.

Second, do not make unilateral concessions. Never make two or more concessions in a row. Negotiation needs to be a quid pro quo.

Three, be precise. People habitually use round numbers as first offers and for their concessions. However, counterparties respond more aggressively to round numbers than to precise numbers. Negotiators who make precise offers are viewed as more informed than negotiators who make round offers.

Fourth, provide a rationale. Look, negotiation should not be like an auction with numbers flying back and forth over the table. It’s a conversation. You have far more leverage with your offers if you provide a rationale.

Win-Win Negotiation

If we never share our interests, we cannot reach win-win outcomes. If I don’t tell you a dang thing, chances are we’re not going to settle upon a win-win agreement.

How do you reach win-win outcomes? We are going to introduce five key skills that you can use in personal and business negotiations.

Number one, fractionate the negotiation into more than one issue. First rule of thumb, negotiations cannot have win-win potential unless there are two or more issues.

Number two, prioritize your interests. Second rule of thumb is to prioritize your interests for each issue. Make your best guess about the opponent’s priorities and interests.

Number three, reveal your interests. Most negotiators are reluctant to share any information.

Number four, ask questions about the other party’s priorities. Asking questions is equally important. My favorite questions are what is more valuable to you, X or Y? What is your rank ordering of the issues? Would you rather I made a concession on issue Z or issue W? If I gave what you wanted on Z could you give me what I need on Y.

Number five, devise multi-issue proposals that logroll parties’ interests.

Creating Value

Sometimes negotiations break down because parties have fundamentally different views concerning future events that cannot be resolved with existing data, and therefore, need to be put to test. This type of negotiated agreement is known as a contingent contract because the parties involved will gain or lose as a result of an unknown outcome. A contingent contract is essentially a bet between parties who have different beliefs That can only be tested with more time, more data.

First and foremost, check your over-confidence. Your data should be better than theirs.

Second, make sure the incentives are aligned.

Third, be clear about what data will be used. Decide this up front.

Finally, remember, one party will win the bet and the other party will lose. Make sure you can pay off the bet if you lose.

Let’s talk about three more sophisticated win-win strategies. Each with their own cute acronym.

First, MIOs, multi-issue offers. Often negotiators discuss each issue in a vacuum. It is far better to negotiate packages or bundles of issues using a strategy known as MIOs, multi issue offers.

Two, MESOs, Multiple Equivalent Simultaneous Offers. Suppose you’re preparing for a negotiation. You’ve identified several issues, in addition to price, and you have prioritized your interests. You are in an ideal position to prepare two or more multi-issue proposals that are of equal value to yourself. You can present these to the other party. Kind of like a dessert tray, and ask the other party to choose. By doing so you appear flexible. Warning do not tell the other party the monetary value of these proposals. Rather, explain that you are indifferent between these. If the other party rejects both or all of your options, ask him of her to rank order them. Set aside questions of accept and reject and instead focus on rank ordering. By analyzing what the counter-party says, you can start to discern their interests.

Three, PSS, or post-settlement settlements. A post-settlement settlement works like this. After negotiators reach a deal both parties brainstorm for a mutually better outcome, with the understanding that the current deal is a commitment unless both parties are willing to change. Sounds strange, right? Explain to the counter-party that the process is mutual value creation. And neither party has unilateral veto power.

What does your initial agreement with the counter-party represent when you go back to the negotiation table?

New starting point. This is your new BATNA.

Note, three considerations should guide your use of the post-settlement settlement strategy.

First and foremost, there needs to be enough trust to have this post-deal conversation.

Second, you need to consider your opportunity cost. What are you giving up by spending more time with this negotiation?

Third, if you are dangerously close to your reservation price, a post-settlement settlement might create a lot more value.

Okay, let’s sum up.

First, refusing to share any information severely reduces win-win potential.

Second, make multi issue proposals.

Third, invite counter proposals.

Fourth, once you reach agreement, search for post settlement settlements.

Finally, solve differences of belief. By crafting contingent contracts.

Interests, Rights and Power

Conflict occurs whenever people believe they have opposing interests or beliefs regarding an outcome or a process. A dispute is a specific type of conflict. According to Ury, Brett & Goldberg, a dispute exists whenever a claim has been made by one party and rejected by the other party.

We’re going to use the interests, rights, and power model of disputes to analyze our own and the others’ behavior.

A power move refers to any statement or behavior in which a person attempts to force or coerce another person. My favorite examples in negotiation are, take it or leave it, that’s my last offer, or this is non-negotiable. Power moves are essentially threats. People demand a behavior and threaten to walk away or sue or escalate if the other party does not comply. Insults, obscenities, and demands are also uses of power. Let me ask you ask a question. If you used power in a negotiation, have you statistically increased or decreased the chances that the other party will use power with you? Research indicates that power is often reciprocated and encourages escalation. There are other disadvantages of using power. Most notably, the other party can call your bluff. For example, suppose you say, this is my final offer in a negotiation, when secretly that’s not actually true. If the other party starts to walk away, then you have a face-saving dilemma. Namely, how do you get the other party back to the negotiation table and maintain your dignity?

Rights strategy. When negotiators justify their offers with an appeal to fair standards, legal precedent, past practice, customer service, and market condition, this is rights. If you guessed that negotiators often reciprocate the right strategy with rights, you are correct. And, again, we have a conflict escalation. Okay. So far we’ve learned that power and rights are often very tempting to use but they encourage reciprocation and therefore increase conflict escalation. Is there an alternative to using power or rights? Yes.

The interests strategy refers to any behavior in which parties attempt to understand the needs and interests of the other party. When a customer says, I’m trying to change my ticket because my daughter is ill and I need to get home as soon as possible, this would be an example of interest. When negotiators use interests, they resist the urge to teach the other party a lesson or show them who’s boss. When negotiators use interests, they separate the people from the problem.

How might you attempt to change the conversation from rights and power to interests?

First, ask why and why-not questions.

Second, don’t focus on a single option. Attempt to generate multiple options or courses of action.

Finally, most important, reward and reciprocate the use of interest by the other party.

Conflict Escalation and Irrational People

The key predictor of divorce was anger combined with a personal attack. Something called contempt.

So, there’s a big difference when somebody says I’m so mad right now I could scream. Versus you are worthless.

Let’s focus on how you can bring rights and power based negotiators back to interest.

We are going to introduce five strategies for redirecting conversations away from power and rights, and back to interests.

First, don’t reciprocate. The best way of extinguishing rights and power is simply not to reciprocate it.

Second, don’t get personal. When I work with clients involved in disputes, I coach them to stop saying things like you are making me mad, or you are so unreasonable, which is a personal attack. And instead say, I’m really frustrated now because this is a really important matter for me.

Third, send a mixed message. Okay, psychologists have warned us for years not to send mixed messages. Sometimes we need to show the other party that we cannot be taken advantage of. In this case, you could combine power and interests by saying look, I’m sure that my senior management team would love to get involved in this matter, but I’m more inclined to work this out with you one on one.

Fourth, meet face to face. People tend to use more power and right strategies when they communicate virtually. For this reason, solve conflicts and disputes face to face.

Finally, single-text strategy. In the single-text strategy, you move away from hurling words across the table to writing proposals on a flip chart, notebook, or blackboard. You can make some proposals and then invite the other party to edit. During this critical period set aside questions of accept versus reject. And instead, focus on rank ordering.

I want each of you to be trilingual, meaning, I want you to be able to use all three strategies at the right time.

Let’s review three conditions under which using rights or power is warranted. One, when the other party will not come to the table.

Two, when you have exhausted all of your options. You’ve tried using the single text strategy, mixed mode of strategy, meeting face-to-face, and still, you are stuck. At this point, you might need to say something like, look I’m running out of optimism here. My goal is to settle this but I fear that I might need to seek legal council. Do you have any more ideas?

Third, when the other party is not taking you seriously. Sometimes you need to flex some muscle for the other party to take you seriously.

Okay, let’s sum up. When we’re in conflict, we get emotional and we’re likely to use power or rights. This can quickly escalate. There is a time to use rights and power, and a way to use power. When using power, be clear about what actions are needed. But, find a way to help parties save face. Remember, the whole idea is to de-escalate conflict.

Reputation and Ethics

According to Robinson, Lewicki and Donahue, there are at least five types of ethically questionable behavior in negotiations.

Competitive bargaining refers to, well being a hard ass. When negotiators use this behavior, they make outrageous demands, or convey an impression that they are in no hurry when actually they are.

Attacking an opponents network, this negotiator may attempt to get their opponent fired or appear foolish in front of their boss. Attempting to undermine someone’s credibility or reputation.

Making false promises. This negotiator makes verbal agreements that they know dang good and well they cannot honor, misrepresentation. They misrepresent information in order to serve their own interests.

Inappropriate information gathering. This negotiator attempts to gain information about an opponent through illegal or inappropriate means.

Most people do not regard traditional competitive bargaining to be unethical. People do regard the four other types of behavior, false promises, misrepresentation, inappropriate information gathering, and undermining the opponent to be unethical.

Finally, most people regard themselves to be more ethical than others.

Glick and Croson discovered that negotiators earn one of four reputations in negotiation communities.

Liar-manipulators will do anything to gain advantage.

Tough-but-honest negotiators are tough but they don’t lie.

Nice-and-reasonable negotiators make concessions in a quid pro quo fashion.

Cream-puffs make a great deal of concessions regardless of what the other party does.

Can you guess what kind of reputation is ideal in terms leveraging your own interests? The tough and nice negotiators are more likely to engender win-win strategies from their opponent. In contrast, people act very defensively with manipulators, and people take advantage of cream puffs.

Let’s put this all in perspective.

First, in the age of the Internet and iPhone, managing your reputation is monumentally important.

Second, you have a more favorable view of yourself than anyone, so it is important to seek unbiased feedback.

Finally, you need to be proactive when at the negotiation table. Ask questions, ask for evidence, and suggest contingencies when the information you need is not available.