Managing Conflict, Leading Change Larry D. Roper Oregon State University

Managing Conflict, Leading
Larry D. Roper
Oregon State University
Who am I?
Why am I here?
My most recent experience with change?
Change in society and in organizations is occurring at
an ever-increasing rate;
The work force is changing - increasingly older, more
racial and ethnic diversity, more women, more social
identity diversity;
Many leaders are operating in an unanticipated
context, with insufficient knowledge and skills.
Challenge of the Present
Environmental turbulence is unprecedented;
Calls for reform are rampant;
Questions of value and purpose abound;
Cost proposition debated;
Scrutiny and accountability intensified;
Criticism widespread;
Broad concerns about core business and mission
critical activity.
Dynamics Influencing Change
1. Globalization and Diversification
2. Mass Demand for Higher Education
3. Achievement Gaps
4. Technologies
5. Economic Fluctuations and Higher Education
Change and conflict
(demands for change and
Why are change and conflict such
frequent companions?
How have you seen these two dynamics
connected in your leadership
Change and Conflict
Describe a change situation you have observed that
resulted in conflict?
What was the situation?
What about the situation created conflict?
What effect did the conflict have on the organization?
Individual members of the organization? The leader?
Power, conflict and change
Leadership power
legitimate power,
which comes from their position in the organization;
referent power,
which comes from the emotions they inspire in others:
expert power,
which comes from their knowledge or skills;
coercive power,
which comes from fear related to their use of force;
Power, conflict and change
reward power,
which comes from giving people something they want;
connection power,
which comes from their relationships to people in power;
information power,
which comes from the possession of valuable
Change Dynamics
Struggles with uncertainty and confusion over expectations;
Value gets questioned;
Fragmentation of relationships;
Random emotions surface – range from hope to despair;
Conflict increases;
Increase in “at-risk” behaviors;
Possible Results
Hope gets shaken;
Trust can erode;
Risk-taking diminishes;
Cynicism can rise;
Anger surfaces;
Retreat to comfort in short-term view;
Confidence can be fragile.
Change, Conflict and Conversations
Conversations create the future
Change does not solve problem, it gives us a new set of
If you are not having conversations about the future, the future
is in jeopardy
Conversation is the primary vehicle through which we
facilitate change
During times of change we need to navigate our organizations
through the right conversations.
Change Leadership
Pursuing change/new possibilities requires entering the
world of the unknown;
Transforming ourselves is integral to transforming our
New levels of relationship is essential to successfully
navigate change;
New opportunities will not be revealed through a deficit
or eliminative lens;
Fear, anxiety and concerns of others must be
acknowledged as legitimate
Opportunities Within Change
Chance to discover unexplored gifts;
Bring new and unimagined value;
Re-imagine, reinvent and re-create;
New clarity and growth;
Stronger, more connected, more sustainable
What you are afraid to do is a
clear indication of the next thing
you need to do.
Eleanor Roosevelt
I was going to buy a copy of the
Power of Positive Thinking, and
then thought, “What the hell good
would that do?”
Ronnie Shakes
Begin Appreciatively
What are three things you most deeply
value about your work, your organization
and yourself.
What do you most appreciate about the
questions currently being asked about
U.S. higher education?
Creating Relationships That Work
People who
Personal shifts
or insights
Increased relationship and
a sense of community
Things that
Things not
New thinking
Pooled wisdom of the
group increases
Shared background
of understanding
Each person’s life is lived as a
series of conversations.
Deborah Tannen
During challenging times humanity,
dignity, sense of worth, reputations,
livelihoods are at stake – the soul of
our organization is on the line.
What possibilities do you hold? Is
there enough future associated with
those possibilities?
What we pay attention to and
how we pay attention, determines
the content and quality of life.
Mihaly Csikszentmmihalyi
Hungarian psychologist
What set of conversations do
others associate with you?
Is that who you want to be
known as?
Leadership is getting an important
conversation into the organization
that was not present before.
One-on-one Discussion:
What conversation would you like to
get into your organization?
What possibilities might that
conversation enable?
Breakdowns give us opportunities to
repair, reconstruct and heal.
When people are upset they
communicate the best they can.
No matter how the words come
out they are a gift to receive.
There are always requests embedded in
conflict – are we capable of
acknowledging and honoring the
presence of the request?
Views of the world can be reconciled –
a sense of community can be fostered
among individuals with different
As we lead through conflict we
should take responsibility to break
the cultural patterns of reputationdamaging conversations.
Do not enter difficult conversations unless you
are committed to the people who are involved
(especially those at the extremes). You must
have care for the community.
Change the tone:
Transform “do we or don’t we?”
conversations into “how can we, while
at the same time?” conversations.
Distinguish between responding to
the incident and responding to the
issue – we must do both.
Take care of others by creating space for
them to share perspectives and feelings
Listen from the position of leadership,
not personal values – listen as a meaning
Commit to being accessible to all
conversation participants – the equivalent
of being on everyone’s side.
Speak from the perspective of your mission
and core values (elevate your mission).
Demonstrate Generosity
Be Accessible – sit in the middle
Lead people, manage things
Be good company on the journey
Be creative, not eliminative transform eliminative conversations
into conversations of possibilities
Manage other’s reputation as you
would manage your own
Reside in hope and communicate a
hopeful image of the future
Embody grace - be graceful,
gracious and grateful