Sometimes the team must take charge. This chapter has focused on the pivotal role of leaders in managing conflict. This emphasis is justified, because the leader isor should beat the forefront of organizational change.
But be clear about this point: Teams, especially senior-management teams , cannot abdicate responsibility for change. Leaders need prodding, especially when those below are aware of the need for change before it enters the consciousness of the CEO, divisional president, department head, or plant manager.
The anonymous teams we've talked aboutsuch as "Art's team" and "Scott's team"were dissatisfied with the status quo but endured their leader's maladaptive behavior for a long time before addressing it. In popular psychological parlance, they can be called enablers or codependents. They certainly were not owners or board members .
It is the responsibility of every team to challenge the leader, especially in the face of unresolved conflict. True, it helps when the leader is a proficient conflict manager. But not all leaders are, and in those cases, it is the team that must take the lead.
Being a member of the teama follower, in other wordsdoes not mean that you must be passive. Followers can stand up to the leader; they can take positions on issues; they can help clarify agendas ; they can assume responsibility for making things happen. To do otherwise might postpone the inevitable clash of the Goliaths, but it also delays, perhaps permanently, the opportunity to turn top-team conflict into high performance.