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Sunday, September 18, 2011

Crossing the Divide #5--Creating Common Ground

Tools and Pathways
Creating Common Ground: Propositions About Effective Intergroup Leadership by Rosabeth Moss Kanter. A much vaunted professor at the Harvard Business School, Kanter says that “…effective intergroup leadership promotes productive uses of differences, whatever their origin and nature.” She notes that fragmented in-group/out-group organizations are characterized by enmity, distrust, hoarding, defensiveness and ultimately low performance. On the other hand, high-group (intergroup) performance is associated with collaboration across groups. She notes six effective intergroup “propositions” (strategies). 1) Convening Power: creating opportunities and places where people across boundaries and interests can talk to each other. One CEO said, “The only thing I do is lead conversations.” Indeed. 2) Transcendent Values: Intergroup leaders define what success will look like and provide a motivational framework that opens its arms to all groups. 3) Future Orientation—Building a New Identity: Intergroup leaders create a future vision that all groups can aspire to without giving up their own identities. 4) Important Interdependent Tasks: Intergroup leaders force groups to take on large, critical tasks with milestones and deadlines as a way of facilitating positive relationships. 5) Interpersonal Norms and Emotional Integration: Intergroup leaders invest in activities that foster emotional bonds—retreats, cocktail parties, chit-chat time, social events, golf, etc. Such events foster emotional connection so critical to intergroup leadership. 6) Inclusiveness and Evenhandedness: Intergroup leaders take risks to be inclusive, even at the risk of being scorned by their own former subgroup. Kanter warns that inclusiveness and intergroup leadership get much harder in difficult times when people are tempted to blame others for business or political misfortunes. However, she offers that taking the long view of a meaning-making future far outweighs the short term gain achieved by finger pointing.

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