Direct Marketing Article
If You are a Leader, are You a Peacemaker?
By Ian A. Vickers
Certainly, the word "peace" evokes good feelings. It's a concept everyone
would favor, right? Logic tells us that anyone with common sense would say,
"I am for Peace," and every half wit would say, "I am against Peace."
What you hear the word "peace," what do you think? Does it conjure up ideas
of true serenity - a spa, pleasant aromas, a babbling book, gentle breezes
and an occasional massage? When we think "peaceful," we usually think
"quiet" and "relaxing."
Other images swirl quickly to the surface as well. On a broader scale,
"peace" means world leaders shaking hands, signing agreements, ending
conflicts and fulfilling resolutions. It's the type of peace often ushered
in by the United Nations and captured on the nightly news.
Regardless of the image we might have regarding peace, we all generally
celebrate when it comes, because peace is good.
As a leader, are you a peacemaker? Good leadership brings peace. I realize
many will say, "Leadership is more about conflict - it's the nature of
leadership." Is it? Does leadership bring with it conflict? Or does conflict
exist and good leadership brings peace? People want to spend time with good
leaders because good leaders - through their leadership - create peace.
Anyone who is a parent, myself included, has seen a few conflicts. Children
tend to have this uncanny ability to bring disagreements and selfish
ambitions to the forefront. I didn't teach my kids to produce conflict -
they did that all on their own. My job as a parent is to help my kids
develop skills that cultivate peace. My children, like a lot of children,
will naturally gravitate toward being selfish, territorial and possessive.
Plain and simple, they want their own way.
I first realized this truth when my children were very young and still in
diapers. Put them in a room with another child with only one toy between
them, and the conditions are soon perfect for conflict. One of the first
words out of my children's mouths is, "Mine!" Maybe the saying "we are kids
at heart" is not always a good thing. As we grow into adulthood, we don't
instantly lose our selfish ambitions. The conflicts that used to show up on
playgrounds soon begin to take their own form in workplaces, marriages and
even between nations. A failure to identify this reality will only reinforce
the wall of conflict.
Good leadership moves beyond selfish ambition to help resolve conflict and
achieve peace. Good leaders recognize the dynamics needed for peace and are
able to cultivate it. It's tangible and it radiates in their presence. They
bring peace with them when they enter a room and they take it with them when
they leave the room. Good leadership pursues peace.
What then makes leaders effective peacemakers? They have these
They understand the natural tendency toward selfish ambitions. A
peacemaker sees the self-focus motives and isn't hesitant to point them out.
Such "pointing out" happens not in an accusatory way, but in a way that
reveals the path to a peaceful solution.
They listen. Leaders go to great lengths to listen and to make sure
people are understood. Listening doesn't always mean agreeing with what's
being said. A leader knows that in most cases of conflict, a person is not
always intense on being right; he or she just wants to be heard. Listening
is crucial to leadership, and a leader relentlessly does it well. If you
want to frustrate those you lead, don't listen to them. Always correct them
when they bring up an idea and shut them down when they are sharing
something that is either inaccurate or incomplete. That is a quick way to
lose any followers - and to lose any shot at cultivating peace.
They bring clarity to the situation. Most conflicts center on
miscommunication. Nowhere is this more apparent than on the international
scale whenever there are multiple languages and cultures involved. The
diversity of perspectives and thoughts is great, but such diversity also
means there is tremendous possibility for conflict. A person may say
something at a meeting, and the listener may have "heard" the words but not
understood their meaning in context. A peacemaker helps people process what
is meant beyond what is simply stated.
They build trust. Trust is the foundation to achieving peace. The
people you lead must trust you as a person. This is what I believe is a
"sacred" relationship. Marriage is one type of relationship that most
cultures consider sacred, because it's a special relationship built on deep
trust. If the trust is broken in the relationship, then the "sacredness" of
the relationship is violated. As a result, there will be absences of peace
and surges of conflict. When we look at building trust in other
relationships, a certain level of sacredness also exists. A peacemaker
cultivates ways for such relationships to be valued. Where there is trust,
the potential for peace is greatest.
We all know that conflict cannot be completely avoided. Leaders as
peacemakers, however, can diminish conflict and reduce its long-term
effects. A good leader creates an environment of peace that compels people
to walk in that direction.
About the Author:
Ian Vickers is chief executive officer of Global Partners in Hope (GPiH).
The organization aims to bring hope to communities around the world through
partnerships between people who can help and people who need hope. To read
more about the difference GPiH is making in communities internationally,