What is an example of how you led a team or group toward achieving an important goal?
Sometimes you see a question and then you just want to get to the crux of this issue. I read this question as, can this person lead or can this person resolve conflict? So, let’s take one step back and ask a simple question, are all the related parties motivated to get to that “important goal”? For example, if I led my MBA study group to get an important assignment done, ok no problem. I could tell my colleague(s), “Hey, can we get focused on the task.” Because we were all motivated to get an A, the group can be moved to accomplish a task. Likewise, if I negotiated a deal with attorneys, accountants, and an owner looking to sell his company, again all the parties are motivated to get something done, so moving toward an important goal is less challenging.
Examples like those above could give you some insight into leadership qualities, but again do they reflect true conflict resolution, because the parties were ultimately motivated by the same end goal. I once stood in front of Commissioners Court in El Paso, pushing an economic development proposal. After letting the body rightfully ridicule our department for not including the County on the front end of the project, I quickly pleaded with the body to blame me for the process, but to let the merits of the proposal stand on their own. This might display some level of conflict resolution, but again the parties were still rational enough to consider broader circumstances. The reality is that within a range of circumstances you behave however you need to, in order to accomplish the task. Sometimes that is accommodative and sometimes it is confrontational.
However, I think it is important to be honest about the current state of politics. We are living in a period of time where more actors, than not, have no motivation to solve an issue, no common important goal to achieve. Adding to this state of affairs are gerrymandered districts and campaign donors that establish the means for punishing those who dare to cooperate. On my website, I talk about concepts like establishing a fidelity contract, game theory and principal-agent problems. I talk about these concepts because leadership, moving forward, will largely be about re-establishing public engagement to establish outside consequences for not cooperating. Once those consequences are strengthened, then one can re-establish traditional democratic principal agent relationships, such that civilization goals can be achieved.
Thus, when we ask about leading a team or group I think it is important to understand that given our state of politics, the group that needs to be led is quite large. That group is a broad cross section of our constituents. Once that group is led to believe that it must, like any good parent or teacher, establish consequences for legislators who do not cooperate, then we can work with parties who have a common important goal to achieve.