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Have We Forgotten the Purpose of Compromise?

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Having the ability to compromise is necessary, either in your personal life or at work. But what is the true purpose of compromise and have we lost that somewhere along the way?

When I was in school, I studied the creation of the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution of the United States. I can imagine the representatives debating, arguing, and discussing the fundamentals of democracy. The process was not easy or elegant. Today, our society continues to debate many social and political issues. Although not true, it feels like we have never been more divided as a culture.

As a manufacturing plant manager, one of my main tasks was to develop a management team built on shared values. I encouraged my team to challenge each other and the status quo. In the process, we were able to create a stronger vision of the values that drove us to success. There are two main points to consider when you are trying to build a team, an organization, or even a country.

First, expression of opposing views should be welcomed. It is the difference of perspectives that let us discover the shared values below the surface. If everyone only settled without voicing their opinion, the team would lack strength. Second, compromise is required. The hard work of true compromise consists of dissecting discussion to understand the basic truths of our beliefs. Then working together to find a solution that best meets our needs and supports our values. A good compromise does not require anyone to oppose their basic values. As this process is repeated, the team begins to coalesce around the underlying shared principles. Just like the creation of the United States, the process is not easy or elegant.


© Flickr user illustir

I’ve talked about this in a past blog about building a high performance team. It truly sounds easier than it is to create a well-oiled team machine. Bringing people together will always create clashes. We all have different needs, thoughts, and personalities. So what does a good leader do in this situation? To take directly from the post itself:

As a team leader, getting team members to look past their own goals needs to be a top priority. This can be the most challenging part when it comes to teamwork. A leader can start the process by developing and communicating a shared vision for the team. But to be effective, here are the requirements for success.

    1. Connect emotionally. Your team members need to know you truly care about them. It is easy to connect on the highs, but you must also connect at the lows.
    2. Connect intellectually. Challenge them. Teach them. Listen to them.

    3. Resolve conflicts quickly and effectively. Conflicts can spiral out of control if not addressed immediately. Understand individual views but build cohesive views.

    4. Support the individual but align effort in favor of the team. Recognize individual efforts individually, recognize and reward team accomplishments in the team environment.

In today’s United States Congress, we don’t see debate that leads to understanding and compromise. Instead we see politicians that are polarized, and divided by their party line. No one is trying to understand the shared values that would lead to better solutions. If your team appears divided like politicians, or lacks the courage to debate issues, then you have a problem. If this is the case, then you have a great opportunity to improve your team with your leadership. They will look to you for guidance and it’s up to you to not only prove to them that you are a capable leader, but also hold yourself to those standards and don’t let them slip along the way.

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Mark S. Brown
Mark S. Brown is an executive coach who is passionate about personal development. He works to make a difference in people's lives by empowering them with skills and knowledge that will improve their lives, the lives of their families, and the communities they live in. Mark has been coached, mentored, and certified by John Maxwell and his team. This coaching certification allows Mark to successfully coach and train individuals, groups, organizations, and companies.
Mark S. Brown


Executive and Business Coach at New Roads Leadership. A founding partner of the John Maxwell Team. We coach for your personal success!
Mark S. Brown
Mark S. Brown

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