top of page

Team of Rivals

Insightful Discovery of Common Ground

 Problem Definition: 


Hostility exists between stakeholders and partners. You must discover common ground and gain commitment from them to resolve the crisis…


It is difficult to get a suggestion across, with this board.  You recognize the several stakeholders in the firm are rivals.  Each of them have a contribution to make, they had recognized their shared levels of self-interest, initially.  But in a few weeks of working together, their differences re-assert themselves. These individuals are competitive and share little camaraderie with one another.  It is hard to put forward a proposition to these individuals, to work constructively to build the future of the organization, since their wills are so opposed to one another.  There is continuous danger of misrepresentation and misunderstanding. The individuals distort their perception of one another, continually. 


As their leader, you enjoy a unique vantage point.  You also genuinely appreciate the potential and abilities of each individual on the board, how should you proceed to facilitate constructive action?  Do you speak to them, individually or collectively?  If you need to approach each of them, individually, what should you sustain your focus about? You reach out to your EI coach to gain perspective.







































 The Takeaway: 


There are EI lenses available to your spectrum that are particularly skilled with working with situations involving hostility. You have to work with your EI coach to make these available.  A skillful deployment of emotions and cognition can release unexpected resources by which personnel and projects mature together in ways previously not dreamt possible.

 The Diagnosis: 


How do you anticipate and understand the motivation of the various stakeholders who are your rivals? How do you manage to find good common ground for a discussion, that skirts zones of conflict, that you are wise enough not to wish away?


• How do you simulate experiences to imagine the right kind of narratives and conversations that would be most effective?


• What might be the boundary lines that you should not transgress to provoke hostility or irreconcilable differences?


How will you have the insight desperately

necessary to find common ground with each


 Historical Reflection: 


Abraham Lincoln










President Abraham Lincoln had built his cabinet, that he had packed with the best men for the job, each of whom were also his arch rivals.  Illustrious statesmen, Seaward, Bates, Stanton, Chase, etc. who had little experience working cohesively as a team, until Lincoln drew them out under his leadership, to bring out their professional and personal best to create a better American Union.  They had begun their term in his candidate with less than a favorable opinion of Lincoln.


In the course of working with him, in the next 5 years their opinions were deeply changed.  He had orchestrated a complete turn-around in each of his cabinet-rivals, from being his sworn enemies to his strongest advocates.  Repeated meetings in countless situations, one on one and collectively, Lincoln drew out the best ability and most humane sense of fellow-feeling in these fellow giants among men, and accomplished a formidable legacy.

 Literary/Cinematic/Historical  Reflection: 


House of Sand and Fog

(Dir. Perelman; 2003 ) 


A recovering drug

addict loses her

home from a


with the County about “back-taxes.”  An Iranian family buys her home and proceeds to make improvements.  The American is working to get justice done for her story, as are the members of the Iranian family, who are scrambling to have a dignified life in the United States.  Both parties are extremely vulnerable.  The two are positioned against one another in a terrible situation or hostility and misunderstanding.


Yet the nature and quality of their interaction with one another transforms both sides and they begin to glimpse the sweetness, vulnerability, and human-ness defining both their condition... A desire to care for one another naturally emerges – and it is this emotional sentiment that survives the physical tragedy that cannot be averted. 


Copyright: DreamWorks Pictures

 Historical Reflection: 


Mahatma Gandhi


The father of India’s struggle for

freedom from colonial rule, Mahatma

Gandhi percieved the Brittish leaders

as potential collaborators rather than

rivals. He unfailingly met the Imperial Masters over India as human beings, striving to bring good governance to India, and failing to do so, because they did not have the best interests of the Indians at heart.  He was so convincing in communicating this insight that the British voluntarily chose to leave the Indian nation to the Indians to govern, non-violently.

 EI Authors A Transformation: 


You labor with your EI coach in disentangling all the emotional undercurrents, to reveal a clearer picture on the abilities and motivation powering each stakeholder in the board.  You work to realistically uncover what you could positively accentuate about each individual. 


Initially you had been nervous to make a single request to these individuals.  Getting entangled in the various cross currents that are swirling all around.  But once you develop a razor like focus on what you could foreground with each individual, you discover the tact necessary to proceed and further the vision of the organization.


It is a complex maneuver, but you learn it can be done.  An innate resilience and positivity empower the process.  Being realistic about the several reefs involved, is also critical.  The perceptive abilities to discover a glimmer of light when it becomes available, is key, to further the journey into a favorable outcome.


 The Impact: 


You release resources, talents, gifts of excellent performance in an environment that previously was running the risk of becoming a turgid quagmire of conflicting self-interest.

bottom of page