stages of the decider process. Shared leadership is still leadership; in fact it is a very common form of leadership.
Examining the topics of conflict management, decision making, and leadership from the viewpoint of living systems theory, we find that conflict is inherent and unavoidable in living social systems because of certain characteristics of their decider subsystem. The decider is composed of several echelons corresponding to levels in the hierarchy of the social system. At each echelon choices are made by people or groups for the benefit of the social system. However, these people or groups are living systems in their own right and must also make decisions for themselves. Additionally, they may be leaders of subsystems and may be required to make decisions based on subsystem values, purposes, and goals. Finally, decider processes at any echelon may be divided and shared among two or more leaders.
Conflict is generated in leaders because (1) they must represent the sometimes incompatible interests of two or more living systems, (2) they must often share leadership, and (3) they receive incompatible commands from two or more levels of the hierarchy. Table 9-2 summarizes the range of strategies used by leaders and social systems to manage leader conflict.
Leaders' conflicts are often managed by compartmentalization. Leaders represent different systems at different times and places, decision processes are divided and assigned, and decision-making responsibilities are defined for each echelon. Compartmentalization is often aided by the setting of priorities. Another general conflict-management strategy is to attempt to make the various interests consonant. It appears, however, that the most successful strategy is to encourage a moderate amount of pluralism in the values of the various systems and subsystems, coupled with a set of checks and balances to ensure that all interests are adequately represented.
Conflict management may mean deliberately increasing conflict as well as decreasing it. Conflicting needs and values are sources of mutual benefit through exchange, as we saw in Chapter 7. Leaders also deliberately generate conflict in order to induce needed change in the social system. For leadership of such systemic change it is often effective to involve several echelons of the decider subsystem in the planning process.
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Publication information: Book title: Leading the Living Organization:Growth Strategies for Management. Contributors: Lane Tracy - Author. Publisher: Quorum Books. Place of publication: Westport, CT. Publication year: 1994. Page number: 168.
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