How to resolve disagreements #LikeABuilder


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You're listening to School Leadership Reimagined, episode number 210.

Welcome to the School Leadership Reimagined podcast...

where we rethink what's possible to transform your school. If you're tired of settling for small wins and incremental improvement, then stay tuned to discover powerful and practical strategies for getting every teacher in your school moving towards excellence. Now, here's your host, Robyn Jackson.

Hey, builders, welcome to another episode of the school leadership reimagined podcast. I'm your host, Robyn Jackson.

And today, I wanted to talk to you about how you can solve conflicts, like a builder, any kind of disagreement that's happening, you know, think about a time when you want to move in one direction, but the rest of your team is pushing back and saying we need to move in another direction. Think about conflicts that you have around, you know, you think a teacher should be working on one thing, and the teacher thinks that they should be working on something else. Any kind of disagreement like that? How do you solve it calmly? How do you solve it in a way that's affirming to other people? How do you avoid getting into a nasty back and forth? How do you avoid having to, you know, kind of flex your positional power muscles in order to get people to do things? Instead? How do you truly resolve that disagreement so that everybody walks out on the same page? And how do you do it like a builder. Now, before I get into that, a couple of things, first of all, you all have blown me away. And I I decided, you know, to talk about the private consulting that I do for clients on the podcast for the first time. And I wasn't sure if that was even something you know if the podcast was the right place to talk about it. But the response has just been crazy, we only have two spots left the the we've already had people come in and try to grab those other spots. So if you want one of the remaining two spots for consulting, you need to call us very quickly. And so what I want you to do is go to mind steps And in the upper right hand corner, you'll see something that says schedule a call and get on the schedule and talk to John.

Now a lot of people have been asking, you know, not sure what they get, they kind of know, they want some support and some coaching and, and some, you know, private work, but they don't know what they get well, what you get is you get me and we work one on one together to accomplish something very specific. So this is not a long term coaching engagements. So you're not like, you know, signing up for 10 months of coaching. In fact, these slots are for one month of coaching. And so what we do is we get together during that month, and we decide what is it that you want to accomplish in that month, and then the we are getting together and meeting to help you accomplish it. So let me give you an example of the kinds of things that you might accomplish, right. So for some of you, it's you know, you are a district leader, and you want to get a clear vision, mission and core values establish and that that's really important. So we would work together for that month to help you facilitate that with your team so that at the end of the month, you have a vision, you have a mission, and you have core values, or maybe you're at the superintendents level, or the associate superintendents level. And you're you're looking at the org chart, and it's not quite right, you've got you inherited, you know, an organizational structure, it's not working, it's not moving you towards your vision. And so you really want to spend some time examining your district org chart, you want to make sure you have the right people in the right seats, doing the right work. And then you want to make sure you can get your entire team aligned, we have some great tools to help you figure that out. Make sure that people are in the right place. And then making sure that that everything that they do in the work that you do is aligned towards reaching your vision. One of my favorite things to do is to help you remove yourself from being the bottleneck and the work. So if you're feeling like people won't make a decision unless you're in the meeting, or people won't make a decision, unless they run it by you first. And so you feel like you're just always being CCD on emails and always been pulled in a ton of different directions. Then we would get together. And we have a process that I would take you through to help you onboard your team members to taking more responsibility removing you from the bottom from being the bottleneck in your district, which is perfect. If you are a superintendent or an associate superintendent. Maybe you feel like you don't know that's going on in your district as a superintendent or associate superintendent. And so you're gonna we will work together. And this is people love this one where we create this district dashboard that helps you keep track of everything, even for if you're like a principal supervisor, creating that dashboard is a great way to help you keep track of all of the principals you support, or all of the schools that you support. 

So if you're in a district position, and you're supporting a lot of different schools, creating that dashboard, putting it together, not only helps you keep track, but it helps you start moving levers that you need to move in order to get all of your schools being successful. Maybe you are not sure what to do next. And so one of the tools we have it's a district blueprint, and it helps you figure out, okay, how do we get to our goals, like you know what your goal is, but you're not sure how to get get there, we would work together for a month to do that, anyway, I'm probably talking too much, you get the idea. There are some things that you want to accomplish very specific goals that you want to accomplish, but you need some support getting there, then this opportunity would be great for you. Because you and I would work together over the course of a month. And we would get together at the very beginning and decide, okay, what do we want to have accomplished by the end of the month, and then we work together to accomplish it. So this is not like coaching, like therapy, or you know that there's anything wrong with therapy. But it's not that instead, this is coaching to help you accomplish something to help you get unstuck in a particular area. And at the end of that month, you have a problem that has been the pain and you're behind, solved that. So if you are there, if you have something that you've been trying to figure out how to do and get paid beyond, you haven't been able to get beyond it, you're stuck, or there's something specific that you want to accomplish, and you want to make sure that it's done and done well and right. And you want the tools and the coaching and the accountability and the resources and the support to help you do that. That's what we work together doing. And we get together on on Zoom. But we also, you know, get together and we you know, we have a Voxer set up and vote, you know, however it is you communicate. So it's like having me in your pocket for a month to help you accomplish something, if you want that. And it's only for people at the district level, because this is not a cheap investment. Like if you are a principal and you want that kind of help, the best thing for you to do is get on the waitlist for Bill to ship university because I provide that kind of support for the people in bill to ship University focused on what to do at the school level. But if you're at the district level, then build a ship University. And maybe it could work for you. But a lot of times people at the district level have you know, they have very specific things they want to accomplish, they want more one on one support. And so if you're at the district level, this is a good opportunity for you to get some things done to get unstuck. Again, go to mind, step Go to the upper right hand corner, where it says schedule a call, click on that, and schedule a call and we'll get it done. All right. 

Second thing very important. We want to get the word out to more people. 

So many of you know that our our our vision is that we want to help all of the principals we support achieve their vision for their schools in three years or less. But our mission, especially my this is my one of my personal missions that always been this My mission is to help every child be successful in school. That's, that's why we do this work. But that can't happen if I believe if we don't make builders ship more ubiquitous. And so would you help me out? Would you share this podcast with someone else? Like for instance, if you have a colleague at the at the admin level, their principal, they're an assistant principal, or their district administrator, and your colleague is getting into a lot of little conflicts with with teachers or they're getting a lot of pushback from a particular group of teachers, or the you know, they feel like they're the arguments are starting to get personal. Would you share this podcast episode with them? So not only will you help them, but you know, they're gonna look at you like, Oh, thank goodness, you've given me a resource. You You see me, you're thinking about me, you're helping me out with my challenge. So would you mind sharing this podcast episode with him? I want to get the word out. I want to grow this, this our tribe of builders I want, you know, my goal. I want every leader to choose to stop leading and start building and so if you could help me with that, I would just It would mean the world to me, I would be so grateful. So thanks for helping me out with that. All right, you ready to get into talking about resolving disagreements? This came I've been thinking about this ever since I heard it or read it somewhere. And someone's talking about this process in a marriage and I was thinking about it. And I was like, at first I was like, that's kind of odd. But the more I thought about it, the more I thought you know what, this is the way that builders resolve any Out of disagreement, and it's so powerful. And a lot of times we kind of know this, but being able to have the words to say the script, you know, like, how do you what is some What's your go to, for resolving conflict could be helpful. In fact, I'm actually thinking about creating a resource called a builder scripts, I'm not sure I'm going to do it yet. But there are some phrases that I find are helpful to be able to say, in situations that help you that give you the language to be able to navigate those situations. And today, I want to share one of you one of those with you, that can really help you if you are trying to, to navigate a disagreement, and make sure that you come out of that disagreement resolved. Because here's what happens when when when bosses meet disagreement, they flex their positional power muscles, right? They, they immediately resort to well, I'm the boss. So we're going to do things my way. They don't resolve disagreement, they quash disagreement, they crush it. And if you're going to make your school feel safe, if you're going to promote innovation, if you're going to build other builders, you can't just shut people down. And a lot of times people get frustrated, or they say, well, sometimes you have to because you know we have to move forward. And we can't stay mired in disagreement. 

But it's not binary. It's not either, or either I shut you down or we stay stuck. There is another option. But bosses don't see that. And so you end up silencing voices, you end up silencing dissent. And then you become you get into this echo chamber where nobody will speak up, people begin to hoard information. Nobody feels safe, you create a back channel, because nobody can talk to you. And you think you have quashed the disagreement when all you've done is scented underground, where it festers and morphs and grows and becomes this cancer in your organization. So you don't want to be a boss. what leaders do is they try to negotiate disagreement, right? So they, you know, let me hear your side. And then you get into these debates. And then you say, well, maybe we could do this, or maybe we can do that. And the debates don't actually bring people over to your side. So even after you've gone on and on and on and on and on about something, what normally happens is nobody's mind is changed, and you just end up, you know, well, either we're going to go forward, or you concede because you don't feel like you can go forward with the people in the way that they in the state that they ran because of your debate. And so you just let it go. Well, that's not resolving anything, that one is just a, that's just a power play light. Like, either you tried to convince somebody to come to your side. And so you're, you're coming into that conversation, you know, trying to win trying to win them over. Or they get so entrenched that and you feel like you can't convince them. And so you end up having to give up doing something you want to do, or you just move forward with it anyway. And you're it's not steamrolling over people. But it is just, you know, you're not silencing them, you've heard them. But then at the end of the day, you're like, Well, okay, but I'm gonna do it anyway. So you heard them like with your ears, they the sounds are there from coming from their mouth came, and they registered and you but it didn't influence you, it didn't impact you. And so people really don't feel heard. And I see this happening a lot, even with the most best intentions out there, you know, leaders who really do want to listen, but the challenge is, when you listen, and you give ear to people, then people feel like, well, you if you didn't, if you don't change your mind, you didn't hear me. 

So it's a setup. And how many of you have been in that situation where you have listened to somebody and heard them out? And then said, Well, I mean, I hear you out. I just don't agree with you. We're gonna go for it anyway. And now they're mad at you. Because you didn't change your mind. While the way that you set up that listening conversation, set you up to make people mad, right, you, you, you you made people think that they had an opportunity to and maybe they did have an opportunity to change your mind, but it didn't change your mind. So now what, and now you've got hurt feelings. Now you've got resentment. Now you've got people who will subtly sabotage the work because they don't buy into it. I mean, how many of you are experiencing that right now? How many of you have people who disagree with you, and they're vocal and they're pushing back vocally or they have just you know, become passive aggressive? Well, it's your show, and then they leave it up to you because they don't feel like they had a meaningful part in that decision. And we're looking to help to find a way to give teachers more meaningful voice or students more meaningful voice, but just listening to somebody and hearing them out does not give them voice because you've heard hear them out. But at the end of the day, the power rests with you, you decide whether what they have to say is valid or not, you decide whether or not what they say will impact what you want to do, the power is all yours. And so you're not, you know, you're not giving them voice and even the concept of giving them voice, it means that you have it to give where rather than creating a, a space, a container where, where everybody can rate can can voice their concerns, or their opinions or their ideas in a way that is safe. And in a way where there isn't this power dynamic. That's that silencing some voices. You know, one of the things I'd love to ask when I'm doing like focus groups, or, you know, visiting schools are what are the rules around who gets hurt? And who doesn't? I mean, have you ever asked that about your school? What are the unspoken rules about who gets heard? And who doesn't? What are the unspoken rules about who gives people voice? And who has that to give in the first place? And if you really looked at that, you'd realize that even the things that you think are good, you know, we had a forum, we heard students out. Yeah, but did it do anything you got to pick? What parts of what students told you you're going to act on? And what parts you're going to ignore? So did you give them voice? Or did you just perpetuate the power imbalance that made them feel like they didn't have a voice to begin with. 

So a lot of this stuff that we were trained to do as leaders, is not helping it's waste. 

It's, in my opinion, a waste of time. And your teachers will begin to feel that way too. Especially if you continually have these committees where you put teachers on the committees and you ask their opinions, and they give their opinions. By the end of the day, you decide to do what you're going to do anyway. Or there's a perception that you're doing that, it's going to backfire. If you say I want students to have more voice, and the students don't say what you want to hear, or they raise issues you're not prepared to deal with. And so those issues go unaddressed. Or you think you're addressing the issues, because you were listening, but you didn't really hear them. And now the students feel like you know, why bother? Well, then you've actually made things worse than if you had just gone and done what you wanted to do in the first place. So what's the solution? Well, if you are a builder, the solution is very, very simple. Now I know I sound like a broken record. But hear me out. If you have created agreement around your vision, your mission and your core values, if everybody agrees that your vision is what we are building together, that is the ultimate goal, that your mission is why we're building this thing that is that that that that mission creates boundaries about how you pursue your vision, and then you have a set of non negotiable core values about how we will get there. Then disagreements become easy to resolve. They become easy. And let me give you the language. Let's say you want to do one thing for your school. But you have a group of teachers who are pushing back. And they're like, No, we don't want to do that. Let's say it's your sixth grade team. They're like, No, we don't want to do they're, they're fighting you on it. Rather than going into the sixth grade team room and sitting down your sixth grade team and say, Listen, y'all are fighting me on this. But we need to get this done. Because this is what the data says y'all just need to get in line like a boss would do. Or going into that sixth grade team room and sitting down with a team and saying, I'd like to hear you out because I'm getting some pushback, and we're trying to move forward and you try to make a big case. And some people kind of saying, Well, I mean, I can see that, I guess, but then they're still kind of resistant. And other people are like, well, I don't agree with you. And then you're saying, Well, I'm sorry, we disagree, we're gonna have to agree to disagree, because we're moving forward anyway. Like A Leader. Instead, you go in like a builder. And you say, let's start out first, do we agree that this is our vision? This is our mission, and these are our core values? And if they say no, well, that's the problem, Right? But if they say yes, then here's the phrase, here's the magic phrase. 

All right, if we both agree that this is our vision and our mission and our core values, I am I'm pushing this decision. I want to make this decision because I believe it will get me there. But I want to hear from you. What data are you using to to formulate your opinion that this move will not get us there? In other words, you're asking them what data are they using? To make the decision not to support what you want to do and how you want to move forward. And then when you've heard them out, you can say, Hmm, that's interesting. I was using this data. And then you can share, you're not trying to convince them, you're just simply sharing with them the data that you use to make that decision. And now it becomes very equal, because it's not, this is what I want. And I'm the principal, or this is what you want. And we want were the teachers and we're not moving because you can't move without us, instead, you're just looking at the data, and one of three things is going to happen. Either, they're going to share their data, and their data is somehow flawed, or they're looking at the data differently, in which case, you just clear that up. And then once you're all seeing this data, they're looking at this, you know, the data and seeing it the same way that you come to agreement on the same decision, or their data is strong, and your data is flawed. In which case, you can say you know what, I hadn't considered that that makes a good point. And then you can adjust things to accommodate the new data, and then you don't lose your power, you actually gain power because of it. Well, you don't gain power, but you gain, you gain the respect, because you are committed to something bigger the vision mission and core values has the power have the power, you don't have the power. Neither do they, the vision mission and core values have the power and that way, when you're looking at the data. And you're saying, okay, you know, I hadn't considered that that's that that's a good point, you have the ability to backup to change, to adjust in a way that doesn't diminish your standing, does it say standing rather than power, because it really is your standing. That's what we're really worried about. And then, so either their data is flawed, or your data is flawed, or in the conversation, you realize that you are both prioritizing different sources of data. And if that's the case, then you can have a really interesting and meaningful discussion about which data which which set of data has the bigger has the bigger saying, and whether or not you achieve your vision, mission and core values. And you've resolved that not by being a better argue er than they are, but you resolve it by going back to your vision, mission and core values. And no matter what, of those, which of those three scenarios happens. The outcome is the same, you resolve the issue, and you get more and more committed to the vision, mission and core values. Now, that's a philosophical thing. Let me show you how it can work. 

Let me give you an example of how it could work in your school. 

Okay, so again, let's talk to your sixth grade team. Let's say you want your sixth grade team to start that you want your sixth grade team to all start doing some using their PLC time to look at student work and to do some grading calibration. Because one of the things that you realize is that depending on who's grading the paper, and a one class is not an eight might be a B and another teachers class. And so you want them to start grading so that there can be some calibration amongst all of your sixth grade team. So no matter what individual team a student is on in sixth grade, that student is getting the same feedback from everybody. That sounds reasonable, right? Okay. So you go to your sixth grade team, and you say I want you know, next, the next grade level meeting, I want us to do some grade calibration, I want you to use this protocol, so that we can get the grades calibrate, and we can make sure kids are getting consistent grades, and they push back. They don't want to do it. They're like, You know what, my grading standards are mine. This other teachers grading standards are theirs, and you're forcing us into uniformity. And they're pushing back. Now, if you're a boss, you go and you're like, I don't care. This is what we're going to do. You go into meeting you sit in the meeting, you have your coach in there to your coaches facilitating the protocol, you're dragging people through the protocol. And at the end of the meeting, you know, what have you learned nothing, because everybody goes back to doing what they were going to do before. Okay. Now, if your leader you try to convince them you try to talk about the merits of the protocol that you want them to use you, you may collect some data that shows that there is the grading is not calibrated, you may tell them a story about a particular student who went from one team to the next you may share with them a parent complaint, you may try to convince them some teachers will be like, Well, okay, I'll do it. Other teachers are sitting there passively aggressively fighting it. And after it's over, they're like, See, I told you this was stupid, and it's not going to work and, and so you've never, ever accomplished the thing you want to accomplish, which is to get the grades calibrated. 

Now, if you're a builder, you're going to do it differently. You're going to start out by saying hey, listen, let's sit down. We have some disagreement around whether or not we should do this great calibration protocol. Okay, so let's start out with just our vision. Our vision is that we want all students to be at or above grade level All, and we want students to grow at least one show a year's worth of growth for years for the school and all four subjects. Do we all still agree that that's where we're headed? That's what we're building. If you get a yes, you move to second question, if you get a no, let's stop, let's talk about it. Okay. Then you can say, Listen, our mission, okay, well, we're about our vision. Our mission is that we want to make sure that we give students more options and help them to make better choices with the options they have. Do we all still agree that that's our mission? No, you stop there. You talk about that? You resolve that? Yes. Okay. All right. Well, our core values that we all said were non negotiable are number one, we want to keep things simple. Number two, we want to make sure that I'm making up core values of what me some of the core values from some of the people and be you know, so number one want to keep things simple. Number two, we want to keep the student at the center of all of our conversations. And number three, we want to make sure that we take the big risk to get the big results. Okay, so do we still agree that those three core values are non negotiable? Then if they say, No, well, then we need to go back to the entire staff, because you sat in front the entire staff that was non negotiable for you. So now you're changing your mind? That's fine. We need to go to the staff and talk about it, we got a bigger issue. If it's yes, we still agree those non negotiable, okay. All right. So if we're all in agreement about that, then we the disagreement is not about the most fundamental parts of our school, the disagreement is about how we get there. Now, I believe we get there that one of the things that's going to help us get there to achieve our vision mission and core values is we have to get calibrated around grades. And so I've been looking at ways to do this. And I believe this protocol will do it. But you all feel differently. So I'm interested in hearing, what data are you using to say, that's not the way we get there? Or that great calibration? Isn't the thing? Do we agree that we need to have grades that are calibrated? And if the answer is yes, then let's talk about how we get there. This is the data I'm using to believe to say that this is the protocol we should use. And this is how I believe it'll get there. What data are you using to say this is not the protocol we need to use. 

Now, if they say I don't agree that our grades are not calibrated, and then you can say, all right, what data is leading you to that decision? Well, you know, I think that, you know, I looked at the grades and they look fine to me. And you know, so then you realize they're not using data, they're just using feelings, you say, Okay, I understand, that's how you feel. But the data that I'm using looks a little different. I'm using data based on taking this paper for this, these five students, I'm looking at how they did on this team, and then how they're doing on this team, you know, whatever it is, right? So you go through, and now look at the difference in that conversation. You're not arguing, you are hearing people out that as you're listening to people, you can see what's the sticking point. And it's usually not what you think it is, as they're listening to you. They see your logic, your reasoning, but you're doing it by sharing your reasoning, not by convincing them because I don't know that people necessarily want to be convinced, right. But if you just if you instead of just going in with an agenda of trying to convince them, you're just saying, I'm trying to be transparent about the data that I'm using, I'm interested in hearing the data you're using, and then you can start to see where you really disagree. And when you do that, when you have that conversation, not debate, not argument, conversation. Everybody feels heard you feel heard, they feel heard. And then you walk out and you can they're usually like, okay, I can see that. Or you can say okay, so your pushback is really not about the process. It's just about the processes, you Scharping other time that you could be using to do other things in your meeting. All right. 

So you believe that the other things you're doing in the meeting are of a greater priority than this? 

Or do you believe that they're not a greater priority? We just don't have another place and other container to accomplish those things. Do you see how the more you ask questions, the more you get to the source of the disagreement, and the more you can walk out of there resolving it so that every body wins. You see, the moment you decide to become a builder, everything changes. It's not that on the surface, you know, you're still got to resolve conflict, you still got to resolve disagreements that's on the surface. But how you do your work is dramatically different. When you're a boss, you are steamrolling over people. And sometimes you feel like you have to do that because you feel like people are dragging their feet and you have this sense of urgency that really isn't a sense of urgency. It's more of a sense of panic, right? Like oh, we gotta get some stuff done. So I just need to steamroll over people. But that always backfires. You you push stuff through and it will never work. Right? When you're a leader, you feel like oh, well, I gotta I gotta wait for everybody else I got to negotiate, I got to get everybody on board. And so you spend all of your time, cajoling and, and convincing people and you it's just a it's just a more polite form of steamrolling you just out argue them, you just out debate them or they outwait you. So it's still this tug of war, you're not on the same side, you're trying to get them to do something you want. They're trying not to be forced or cajoled or convinced to do something they don't want to do, do you see, you're all you're on different sides. 

But when you are a builder, the vision mission and core values means that you're starting from the same side, we all want this. So right now our disagreement is about what we want or disagreement is about how we get there. So let's examine the data that each of us is using to make the decision about how we get there. And let's come to some agreement. But we're all on the same side it no point in that conversation. Is it us against them, or them against you? It is always we are on the same side? Can you see how powerful that is? So a challenge for you this week, stop arguing, start, stop steamrolling, stop feeling like it's us against them, stop trying to convince people to do something, instead, put a vision, mission and core values in place because that solves everything. It just does. It immediately repositions you and your teachers so that you are on the same side. And then when there are times when you disagree about how to move forward towards that vision, mission and core values, it's simply a matter of asking the question, I'm interested in understanding what data you're using to make that decision. And here's the data I'm using to make that decision. And then comparing the two and looking at them and figuring out are we first of all coming from flawed data? Are we prioritizing different data this, let's unpack that a little bit more. And usually, in doing that, you find a way to move forward in agreement, because instead of steamrolling, or cajoling, you handled that disagreement, like a builder. 

I'll talk to you next time.

Hey, if you're ready to get started being a builder right away, then I want to invite you to join us at builder ship University. It's our exclusive online community for builders just like you where you'll be able to get the exact training that you need to turn your school into a success story right now with the people and resources you already have. Inside. You'll find our best online courses, live trainings with me tons of resources, templates and exemplars and monthly live office hours with me where you can ask me anything and get my help on whatever challenge you're facing right now. If you're tired of hitting obstacle after obstacle and you're sick of tiny little incremental gains each year, if you're ready to make a dramatic difference in your school right now, then you need to Join builders ship University.

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