Two team heads had been sabotaging each other for a couple of years. The bad part is that their teams need to be collaborating, but the disrespect between the team leaders trickled down. It’s probably obvious to you that this was inefficient, caused issues with service quality and a number of other problems inside the organization.
Have you experienced this yourself or has it happened inside your organization? Maybe you are fed up and looking for another job? Or, if you’re the CEO, perhaps you’re on the brink of firing one or both of them but don’t want to face the costs of replacement. This is a classic example that I’ve helped unravel multiple times, as it is all to uncommon.
Using an unconventional (Bridgenosis) approach in these situations, we were able to get these immediate results:
- Team leaders stopped triggering and sabotaging each other.
- Within two-three weeks (has varied by case), their teams were collaborating in ways they had not done so in a long time.
- Still years later, all is good and no other conflicts have emerged between them.
What’s the unconventional solution and how can you apply it?
1) When you’re in the throws of a conflict with someone and not seeing eye to eye or tension just keeps emerging (or if this is happening in your organization and you’re the CEO), resist the urge to point fingers and focus on the other person. (I know, I know…sounds like I’m being too soft, but I’m not…stay with me…there’s more.)
2) Instead, ask this important question: What is it that they are doing to you that is kind of like what you are doing to yourself or believing?
In the mindfulness world, there’s a principle of remembering the other person is you. It can be a little confusing to know how to apply this, especially since externally the other person is probably behaving in completely opposite ways from yours.
In these team-head conflict cases, one person was often impeding the other person’s ability to access resources. Upon investigating, it was obvious these two thought they were in competition for resources, money, attention from the president, and raises.
Underlying limiting beliefs that both people had:
- “There are not enough resources.” Scarcity mindset was holding this in place. And, it went deeper.
- “Not only is there not enough, but I am also not enough.”
Solution: Shift the subconscious to be in alignment with one’s internal compass by believing at the deepest levels-not just consciously believing the following: There is enough, and I am enough.
How does this work pragmatically? Meaning, who did the shifting?
1.) Sometimes, we shift both parties involved in separate sessions. However, this is often not necessary to unravel a conflict. In many cases, I did not need to work with both of them because they were equal in terms of position and energy.
Shifting one person unraveled the whole conflict because they both had the same limiting belief-that is what was holding them in conflict. In fact, this is always the case in a conflict. Once we removed it from one, the conflict had to dissipate and did.
Think about it like this: A limiting belief (and we all have them) is a belief we have about ourselves and the world that was once true under limiting circumstances but isn’t true for all time. It’s an achilles tendon that gets kicked and triggers pain when someone else does something (whether the person is trying to kick it or not, actually). When you remove that belief, there is nothing left for the other person to kick.
Since it was an illusion that the two needed to compete, when one stopped believing in the illusion, that person stopped engaging in the underlying competition. They also stopped worrying about the other person’s behavior. And, pretty soon, the other person stopped as well.
I call it energetic leadership that is beyond words. When you take the lead in believing in something more confidently and letting go of limiting illusions, you hold the space for others to follow.
2.) What about when there’s a conflict between a VP and his or her senior manager, you may wonder? In this case, you either work with both people or the VP. If you only shift the manager and not the VP, the conflict will stay in place because the VP has more power.
3.) If an organization wants to see a permanent solution, the President/CEO must do this work as well. In other words, if you don’t want to keep seeing the same limiting belief erupting in conflicts with different people in your organization, you have to pluck the limiting belief from the person at the top as well.
In these conflict cases, I went back to the CEO (with permission of the person I helped in the actual conflict) to see if he or she also had the same limiting belief that was underneath the conflict. In every case so far, they have. (They just didn’t know it because it was hidden in the subconscious.) We cleared that as well.
This is key regardless of how removed you as the CEO might be from a conflict inside your organization and regardless of how different the behavior being exhibited in conflict might be. (Remember the in this post…we just shifted the CEO, and the tension among the sales team lifted.) Ultimately, this is your power to change your organization.
Again, if I had not gone back to the CEO in this case, a similar conflict would have arisen between different people.
And, this is how you control what seems to be uncontrollable.