We don’t have to look far to see the need for peace in our world. Conflicts are ongoing in several parts of the world at this very moment. As leaders, we feel the conflicts closer to home, among our team members.
I was reminded recently that sometimes our role as a leader means being a peacemaker. I visited the Key West Cemetery where one of the best leaders I’ve ever known is buried. His name is Glynn Archer, Jr. He came along at a time in my life when I was still trying to get my head around the responsibilities of leadership. He was a mentor to me. He was involved in the local community and was especially helpful in the bringing together of three distinct churches as they merged into one. I watched as he masterfully heard each side’s point of view and distilled each group’s concerns down to the common elements. Then he built relational bridges between the groups so that they could meet in the middle and work together. He realized that working together was the only way forward.
It’s tough to be a peacemaker because each side in the conflict thinks they are right. I’ve enjoyed reading Ed Catmull’s fantastic book, Creativity, Inc: Overcoming the Unseen Forces that Stand in the Way of True Inspiration. Mr. Catmull is the President of Pixar Animation and Disney Animation. He describes one of his early meetings with the late Steve Jobs as they are trying to figure out if they could work together. Catmull gently asks Jobs how he handles it when people disagreed with him. Jobs replies, “When I don’t see eye to eye with somebody, I just take the time to explain it better, so they understand the way it should be” ( Amazon Kindle, Location 743).
We all share Jobs approach at times. Everybody else is wrong and we are right…right?
That’s why we need peacemakers. Leaders have to wade in where angels fear to tread and get messy with the conflict. We risk being yelled at and misunderstood. We have our motives questioned and are accused of playing favorites.
But when the conflict is resolved, there is nothing like the sweet sound of harmony as team members work together again. The mission moves forward.
Buck up your courage; be a peacemaking leader.
The world needs you.
And so does your team.