The impulse to flee or fight has been with us since the Stone Age, but are those two instincts suited for our modern challenges?
Psychologists are starting to reevaluate this binary choice. Let’s look at it from the leader’s perspective.
At the Battle of Little Round Top at Gettysburg, we have a perfect example of when fleeing or fighting in place may not be practical. Colonel Joshua Chamberlain was tasked with holding the critical end position of the Union line and, when confronted by a superior rebel force and his troops out of ammunition, could not flee or fight conventionally. He had to lead and improvise.
Aligning his men in a hub and spoke configuration, he led them in a sweeping bayonet charge down the hill. His bold move carried the day for the Union and ultimately changed the course of history.
Certainly, the battlefield makes the decision process much more consequential. However, there is something for us to tease out of this example to benefit our everyday leadership development.
Psychologist Jim Taylor encourages us, “Those who learn to control and direct their primitive instinctive reactions will survive and move toward a new and more adaptive response to today’s threats.” I offer, despite the urge to fight or flee, that as leaders, we must first summon our creativity. We must slow the moving landscape and overlay adaptive strategies.
At Academy Leadership, we discuss five strategies when a leader is faced with a critical conflict management opportunity. Three choices line up with the fight or flee instinct, depending on how assertive or cooperative you want to present yourself. The other two, compromise and collaboration, require more finesse – a solid leadership approach.
Let’s focus on these two.
When you arrive at a critical decision point and time is available, the best strategies are to collaborate or compromise. Collaborate is to start from scratch and build a solution together, while compromise is to understand the pieces of the puzzle on the table and put them into the most effective working order. Both strategies require knowing yourself, knowing your team and knowing your stuff – bedrock at Academy Leadership.
A thorough discussion of the two is beyond the scope of this article, but it is worth any modern-day leader’s time to thoroughly study these two strategies and practice employing them.
Beware! Today’s society, from community to Congress, offers head winds to collaboration and compromise, but we as corporate and organization leaders will serve our teams better if we invest the time to fully understand these strategies and not allow ourselves to be distracted by primitive impulses.
Contact us at Academyleadership.com to learn more about the important strategies to manage conflict.
Ron works with emerging leaders, execs, entrepreneurs and managers who want to sharpen their leadership skills and inspire their teams to achieve a level of performance beyond their imagination. He does this by providing high-impact, energizing programs that give the participants an opportunity to learn and practice the guiding principles of leadership that are crucial to establishing a success-oriented environment. You already know a lot about leadership, Ron helps you to amp it up and put it all together so that you use your abilities in a disciplined fashion every day to achieve results?! His course participants are unanimous in their feedback, "I wish I had attended earlier in my career." He has also brought his Leadership Excellence Course to the Battleship North Carolina, where participants learn in a most inspiring environment how to motivate people, the power of integrity, the reasons for good feedback and many other defining leadership principles that help leaders and teams get to the next level and achieve results. You can check out some other course opportunities at AcademyLeadership.com. Look in the Raleigh, Greensboro, Charlotte and Wilmington areas.
Christina Haley O'Neal - Oct 23, 2020
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