We often write about the importance of allocating one
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Some leaders overuse one on one communication to maintain control over their departments and their employees’ actions. Tribal Leadership’s authors would tell you that a leader’s excess of one on one communication reveals that he or she is a Stage 3 leader, coming from a mindset of “I’m great (and you’re not)!”
When a leader controls a series of dyads, he or she is always in charge of the message. The message might change from person to person, unintentionally or otherwise, leading to misunderstanding and conflict. The one-on-one leader places himself or herself at the hub of the wheel, through which every transaction must pass. This not only limits the development of the team members – it also limits the scope of operation that the leader can manage. His or her time is consumed by meeting after meeting with individuals.
When you introduce and involve two other individuals, whether socially or in a work task situation, you open the opportunity for a relationship between the two of them that is independent of their relationship with you. When they in turn use the same triad methodology, they begin a process of opening their individual networks to one other, creating a dramatic increase in access to knowledge and other resources.
You can use the power of three to include a content expert in a conversation and drastically increase the speed with which problems are solved. You can bring in another affected department head when you are discussing a change or initiative to make sure (to the extent possible) that it meets the needs of all impacted parties. You can assemble the team leaders from two different departments that need to work seamlessly together to complete a project (a productive step toward the extinction of functional silos!).
In employee disagreements, the one-on-one leader meets with each involved party individually and then dispenses a verdict on how to resolve the conflict. And that often results in a perceived “winner” and “loser” once the justice is dispensed. The focus of staff members then changes from the needs of the customer (internal or external) to the lobbying of the leader. Political concerns start to overshadow business outcomes in the minds of team members. We don’t have to tell you what that does to the business.
When a leader chooses to engage the power of three (the triad) to resolve conflict, he or she can collaborate with both affected parties at once to determine a path forward. The focus of the triad is to start from the points of common ground – the values and desired outcomes that the parties share – and filter their different perspectives through that lens. The leader can even implement a triad philosophy in this case by reminding the other two parties of their common ground, and then freeing them to resolve the conflict with one another without the leader’s intervention.
You might think you’re great and that you’re needed everywhere. You might be great, in fact. But the true power of your organization is through activating networks that can operate independently of you. That starts with the power of three.