Member Login

Conflict Resolution

Mindful Leaders Build Trust Within a Team



Organizations waste vast amounts of time, effort and money each year by failing to recognize or correct dysfunctional teams.

A PricewaterhouseCoopers study of 200 global companies across various sectors―involving more than 10,000 projects―found less than 3% successfully completed their plans. Similar research reveals 60%–70% project failure rates. In the United States alone, IT project failures cause estimated losses of up to $150 billion per year.

Dysfunctional teams cannot be blamed for all business failures, but they play a major role in unsuccessful projects and missed goals. In his acclaimed bestseller, organizational consultant Patrick Lencioni identifies The Five Dysfunctions of a Team:

1.     Absence of trust

2.     Fear of conflict

3.     Lack of commitment

4.     No accountability

5.     Lack of attention to results

1.     Absence of Trust

Lack of trust is the core dysfunction, the one that leads to all other problems.

Several group behaviors demonstrate distrust. Team members may have low confidence in others. They may fear that any sign of personal weakness could be used against them. Consequently, people are unwilling to be vulnerable, transparent or open when exchanging ideas or expressing their feelings.

A lack of trust creates defensiveness in team members, notes leadership consultant Roger M. Schwarz in Smart Leaders, Smarter Teams (Jossey-Bass, 2013). Defensive team members feel the need to protect themselves.

Leaders who want to rebuild trust can try the following strategies:

·      Vulnerability: Create an environment in which team members can safely feel vulnerable. Draw out people’s personal experiences by sharing your own stories, thereby setting the proper tone and lowering barriers.

·      Honest Feedback: Team members must learn how to provide feedback. Acknowledging and affirming others with constructive feedback set the stage for positive reinforcement and encouragement.

·      Authenticity: Practice humility to tear down walls. If you and your team can admit that you don’t know everything, the experience will be freeing.

·      Integrity: Model integrity in group dynamics. Everything you do is magnified and often copied. When you “walk the talk,” others will follow your example.

2.     Fear of Conflict

Lack of trust within a team easily leads to fear of conflict, confrontation, criticism and/or reprisal. When teammates and leaders are seen as potential threats, people adopt avoidance tactics. This sets up an artificial harmony that has no productive value. There is no true consensus, just a risk-preventing sentiment of “yes” feedback. True critique is avoided. Genuine solutions are not explored, and the team functions poorly.

This dynamic allows a domineering team member to take over, with a unilateral-control mentality. Dominant personalities believe they’re always correct, and anyone who disagrees is wrong and disloyal. Independent ideas are stifled. Negative feedback creates discomfort. People’s spirits and self-esteem eventually plummet, crippling group performance.

Conflict-resolution training can help you encourage productive debate without hurting feelings or wounding character.

3.     Lack of commitment

When teams lack trust and fear conflict, they’re likely to avoid commitment. We focus on self-preservation and maintaining amicable relationships. As we attempt to avoid confrontation, we stop listening to others’ concerns. Discussions become superficially polite.

Most people can sense when someone isn’t listening to their ideas or questions. This single dynamic―often subtle―will shut down team engagement and commitment, and tension continues to grow.

Teammates who are cut off or ignored feel left out. They’re less committed to team effort, so they’re unlikely to “get with the program.” It becomes difficult for a team to move forward amid stalled decisions or incomplete assignments. Enthusiasm for projects takes a nosedive, and confrontations become commonplace. Some members even stop caring about whether the team succeeds.

Lack of commitment also becomes a problem when you fail to convey clear goals or direction. People are left to wonder what they’re supposed to do, and the team’s success is no longer their top priority. They mentally check out and just start going through the motions.

You can reestablish commitment by prompting team members to ask questions. When you invite dialogue, teammates learn more about each other. They’ll see others’ intentions, attitudes, motives and mindsets more clearly, eliminating the need to guess or assume.

4.     No Accountability

If you fail to reverse a lack of commitment, dysfunctions will intensify. Team members will lose their sense of accountability. If there’s little buy-in, there’s no desire to meet obligations, follow directions or help others. This is most common in environments where progress isn’t adequately assessed and definitive project schedules don’t exist.

Work toward establishing clear directions, standards and expectations. All team members need to work with the same information set at all times. Realistic, understandable schedules help drive activities and allow work flow to meet interconnected goals.

Activity tracking methods should clearly report which tasks are on time and which are late. Corrective action plans should make the necessary adjustments and redirect activities accordingly.

5.     Inattention to Results

Without team accountability, the criticality of group success is lost in the shuffle. Self-preservation and self-interest trump results in a climate of distrust and fear. Your inability to track results leaves you with no way to judge ongoing success or failure, progress or pitfalls. No one is praised for good results, and no one is corrected for the lack thereof.

Effective project management methods must track progress toward intermediate and final goals. Affirm team members (and their interdependence) through their accomplishments and struggles. This draws them together and lets them know they’re valuable to the organization, team and, ultimately, themselves.

Are you working in a company where executive coaches provide leadership development to help leaders put strengths-based leadership into action? Does your organization provide executive coaching for leaders who need to build a company culture built on trust? Transformational leaders tap into their emotional intelligence and social intelligence skills to create a more fulfilling future.

One of the most powerful questions you can ask yourself is “Am I a transformational leader who inspires individuals and organizations to achieve their highest potential, flourish at work, experience elevating energy and achieve levels of effectiveness difficult to attain otherwise?” Emotionally intelligent and socially intelligent organizations provide executive coaching to help leaders create a culture where respect and trust flourish.

Working with a seasoned executive coach and leadership consultant trained in emotional intelligence and incorporating assessments such as the Bar-On EQ-i 2.0, Hogan Lead, CPI 260 and Denison Culture Survey can help leaders nurture strengths-based conversations in the workplace. You can become an inspiring leader who models emotional intelligence and social intelligence, and who inspires people to become fully engaged with the vision, mission and strategy of your company or law firm.

Working Resources is a San Francisco Bay Area executive coaching and leadership development firm helping innovative companies and law firms develop emotionally intelligent and mindful leaders. We help build coaching cultures of positive engagement.

...About Dr. Maynard Brusman

Dr. Maynard Brusman
Consulting Psychologist and Executive Coach|
Trusted Advisor to Executive Leadership Teams
 Emotional Intelligence & Mindful Leadership Workplace Expert

I coach leaders to cultivate clarity, creativity, focus, trust, and full engagement in a purpose-driven culture.

Dr. Maynard Brusman is a consulting psychologist and executive coach. He is the president of Working Resources, a leadership consulting and executive coaching firm. We specialize in helping San Francisco Bay Area companies select and develop emotionally intelligent leaders. 

Maynard is a highly sought-after speaker and workshop leader. He facilitates leadership retreats in Northern California and Costa Rica.

“Maynard Brusman is one of the foremost coaches in the United States. He utilizes a wide variety of assessments in his work with senior executives and upper level managers, and is adept at helping his clients both develop higher levels of emotional intelligence and achieve breakthrough business results. As a senior leader in the executive coaching field, Dr. Brusman brings an exceptional level of wisdom, energy, and creativity to his work.” — Jeffrey E. Auerbach, Ph.D., President, College of Executive Coaching

The Society for Advancement of Consulting (SAC) awarded rare "Board Approved" designations in the specialties of Executive Coaching and Leadership Development. Alan Weiss, Ph.D., President, Summit Consulting Group

Are you an executive leader who wants to be more effective at work and get better results?

Did you know that research has demonstrated, that the most effective leaders model high emotional intelligence, and that EQ can be learned? It takes self-awareness, empathy, and compassion to become a more emotionally intelligent leader. 

Emotionally intelligent and mindful leaders inspire people to become fully engaged with the vision and mission of their company.  Mindful leadership starts from within.

I am a consulting psychologist and executive coach. I believe coaching is a collaborative process of providing people with the resources and opportunities they need to self manage, develop change resiliency and become more effective. Utilizing instrumented assessments - clients set clear goals, make optimal use of their strengths, and take action to create desired changes aligned with personal values.

I have been chosen as an expert to appear on radio and TV, MSNBC, CBS Health Watch and in the San Francisco Chronicle, Wall Street Journal, USA Today, Time, Forbes and Fast Company.

Over the past thirty-five years, I have coached hundreds of leaders to improve their leadership effectiveness.

After only 6 months, one executive coaching client reported greater productivity, and more stress resiliency helping her company improve revenues by 20%. While this may depend on many factors most of my clients report similar satisfaction in their EQ leadership competence leading to better business results.

You can choose to work with a highly seasoned executive coach to help facilitate your leadership development and executive presence awakening what’s possible. 

For more information, please go to, write to, or call 415-546-1252.

Subscribe to Working Resources Newsletter:

Visit Maynard's Blog:
Connect with me on these Social Media sites.







Why No One Likes Taking One for the Team


Watching my boys play hockey every week reminds me of something that used to really bug me as a participant in team sports. I called it, “taking one for the team.” Typically, if the team loses a game or has a bad play, the coach will pull the team aside and give them a verbal “blast” relative to what they had done wrong.

When I was young this often involved the coach yelling and waving his arms around. Fortunately, this seems less common in team sports today. That said you only need to watch a few professional hockey or baseball games to see that this approach to providing feedback is still quite prominent in some settings.

Interestingly I’ve seen this same archaic and ineffective means of providing feedback used by many leaders in business.

It seems to be put into use when one or two employees make a bad decision or fail to meet a deadline. In response to the issue the supervisor or manager ends up pulling the entire team aside and giving them a verbal “blasts” about for their poor performance.

Have you ever had a boss like this? I have, and let me tell you it is not fun.

I’m often asked to coach leaders who use this, “take one for the team” approach as it often has long term impacts on team morale and productivity. When coaching these type of leaders I start by asking them why on earth they use this approach to feedback and their response is often related to a belief that this “take one for the team approach” either saves them time or is a means to communicate the issue to a broader group.

Unfortunately no one that I’ve ever met likes being called to the carpet for something he or she has not done wrong. No one.

That’s not the only problem though. Studies have shown that providing feedback in a group setting, where the points raised aren’t entirely relevant to everyone participating, actually diminishes the receptivity to the feedback and over time lessens the respect recipients have for the person providing the feedback.

So the question is whether group feedback is effective. In essence should an employee have to, “take one for the team?”

The short answer is yes, group feedback can be effective however there are some rules to ensure recipients of the feedback are receptive. Here are a couple that I advise many of the leaders I coach to use when they are forced to provide feedback to a small group:

First, use group feedback as a supplement to individual feedback.

If an employee has made a mistake and you’ve had an opportunity to discuss the issue directly with him or her, and coach the person on the proper process or protocol, with the employee’s permission bring the situation back to the group to discuss the lessons learned and include the employee in the presentation (if he or she is comfortable doing so). This creates an environment for group learning.

Second, approach group feedback as a collaborative dialogue.

Discuss changes in process or mistakes that have been made in a group setting, and ask for feedback and ideas from the group on how to improve upon or resolve the situation moving forward. Thus the discussion is shifted from, “What was done wrong or missed?” to, “How can we make this process or approach better to avoid any errors or issues in the future?” Employees are more receptive to collectively discussing ideas for improving how they work than they are to hearing a one-sided view of what they are doing wrong.

Consider the week ahead and situations where you may be forced to provide feedback to a group. How can you shift from a “take one for the team,” approach to a collaborative dialogue focused on enticing employees to participate in finding and identifying solutions to working better together?

Are you facing a situation where you’re unsure of how to shift to a more collaborative dialogue when providing feedback? Hit reply and let me know the situation. I’ll be happy to share some additional ideas with you.

© Shawn Casemore 2017. All rights reserved.

Emotionally Intelligent Conflict Management


Conflict Management

“I've learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.” – Maya Angelou

What causes conflict between people? Conflict develops when individuals have different opinions, ideas and thought processes not demonstrating an understanding of the other person’s view, or perhaps are not willing to compromise with the other person.

Often conflicts and disagreements lead to negative feelings, and often the issues are not resolved. If you are continually disagreeing or arguing with a co-worker or an individual in your personal life are you going to want to be around them?

The issues contributing to a conflict may be addressed, and worked on to prevent the eruption of a larger conflict. Conflict management plays an important role at work and in our personal lives. Although people vary in their preference to deal with or to avoid conflict, most people find arguing and fighting makes one’s life miserable.

The ability to deal constructively with others and manage conflict when it arises helps increase our well-being – at work and in our personal lives.        

Each of us possesses a series of conflict management tools that either assists, or degrades our ability to deal with conflict well or to have productive relationships with others. Thankfully, we can constantly reevaluate the tools that are in our conflict management toolkit. Through coaching, we can refine how we handle situations that would otherwise result in increased conflict or distress.

The following are signs of poor conflict management skills:

1.   Generally avoids dealing with conflict

2.   May too frequently accommodate in order to just get along

3.   May get especially upset as a reaction to conflict, perceiving it as highly personal

4.   Cannot tolerate some conflict long enough to resolve it constructively

5.   Does not stand up for own interests and says yes too soon

6.   Gets into conflict by accident; doesn’t see it coming

7.   Tendency to let things fester and not address the issues

8.   Waits too long for the right time and place to address issues

9.   Tries hard to win every dispute

Signs that someone is skilled in managing conflict include: 

   Steps up when conflicts arise -- even seeing them as opportunities to make progress

   Listens well combined with good “reality assessment”

   Can help settle disagreements in a manner that people feel is equitable 

   Is able to find common ground relatively easily 

Can someone overuse conflict management skills? Yes, this is what it may look like:

   May be seen as overly assertive, perhaps aggressive

   May push for solutions before others feel ready

   May spend too much time dealing with conflict and in that way magnify the conflict

   May cut off open debate or brain storming to push to settle the issue

Coaching Questions to Help People Be More Constructive in Conflict Situations        

“What can you do to show the other person you are interested in their needs?”

“How are you showing them you respect their perspective?”

“What can you do to give the other person what they want in a way that is ok for you?”

“What might you be doing that contributes to the conflict?” 

“In what way may you be using insensitive words, or raise your voice, or come across as critical or sarcastic?”

“What is the first thing you could do to be more constructive?” 

“What else could you do that would be helpful?”

Listen to the other person. What are opportunities when you could say, “I see what you mean”, “I can see how it came across that way”, or other ways that you can let the other person know you are understanding their perspective even if you don’t completely agree with their point of view.

Help the person downsize the conflict to make it more manageable. “Would you tell me what is your specific concern?”

Ideally we can help people see their development as a dynamic work in progress. There are several influences on one’s ability to successfully manage conflict and arrive at an effective course of action. 

We can help someone see that by being conscious of some potential areas of growth and committing to honest self-evaluation of current conflict management skills, people can become more refined in their skills to manage conflict in their work and personal lives.

Dr. Maynard Brusman, Consulting Psychologist
San Francisco Bay Area Executive Coach|
Emotional Intelligence & Mindful Leadership Workplace Expert

For more information, please go to, write to, or call 415-546-1252.


Why Employee Conflict Is A Good Thing


Why Employee Conflict Is A Good Thing

Have you dealt with employee conflict with your team lately? If not then you should be concerned.

Too often leaders try to stop employee conflict before it gets too far, but the reality is conflict is a natural outcome when putting a diverse group of employees together. In fact there are numerous benefits to employee conflict if it’s managed correctly. Watch the brief video below to learn more on conflict management and getting more from your employees. Most Leaders will try and develop the most potential in their employees, but knowing how to see conflict and when to seize the opportunity to allow more creativity to develop or stop the conflict before healthy tension turns into disruptive chaos is a skilled art.

Creative employee conflict can be a good thing

Watch the video HERE:

Spend time this week helping your team understand what their own natural approach to conflict is so they can begin engaging in healthy conflict and how dealing with employee conflict can driving more creative ideas and solutions. For tools and tips on how to do this email me at

© Shawn Casemore 2016. All rights reserved.

Ten Tips for Emotionally Intelligent Conversations

                       “No one has to change; everyone has to have the conversation.” — David Whyte

In her two books, Fierce Conversations and Fierce Leadership, training and development consultant Susan Scott explains that the word “fierce” doesn’t imply menace, cruelty or threats. In Roget’s Thesaurus, the word fierce is associated with the following synonyms: robust, intense, strong, powerful, passionate, eager, unbridled, uncurbed and untamed.

Authentic leaders create workplace cultures where people collaborate by having open, honest and deep conversations about what matters. What types of conversations are people engaged in at your company?

The following are some tips you can use for having fierce conversations at work, particularly difficult conversations that have to deal with conflict or lack of trust. These ideas are helpful for people who have trust issues and are in conflict with one another. They have been found to be very powerful and effective in helping leaders and employees engage in assertive and emotionally intelligent conversations.

How to Sharpen a Conversation

Ten steps can guide you through more meaningful conversations. As with any guide, consider these steps to be general principles, and choose your words with forethought.

1.  Prepare to have your conversation in person, without distractions.

2.  Clarify your intentions.

3.  Prepare your opening statement.

4.  Name the issue.

5.  Select a specific example that illustrates the behavior you want to change.

6.  Describe your emotions around the issue.

7.  Clarify what’s at stake.

8.  Identify the ways in which you contribute to the problem.

9.  Indicate your wish to resolve the issue.

10. Invite your partner to respond.

Once you’ve made a trial run with these guidelines, debrief with the other person. You can say something like: “Thank you for hearing what I had to say and for sharing your perspectives. Your success is important to me, and I applaud your commitment to action. I’d like us to follow up on this later.”

Are you working in a professional services firm or other organization where executive coaches are hired to provide interpersonal communication skills and leadership development for organizational leaders? Does your organization provide executive coaching to help leaders improve their interpersonal communication skills? Leaders at all levels need to improve their emotional intelligence and social intelligence skills.

One of the most powerful questions you can ask yourself is “Can I acknowledge how I may be contributing to the problem when engaging in fierce conversations?” Emotionally intelligent and socially intelligent organizations, provide executive coaching and communications skills training for leaders who want to have fierce conversations and be fully engaged and happy at work.

Working with a seasoned executive coach and leadership consultant trained in emotional intelligence and incorporating assessments such as the Bar-On EQ-i CPI 260 and Denison Culture Survey can help you create an organizational culture where the ability to connect and collaborate with people helps build business success. You can become a leader who models emotional intelligence and social intelligence, and who inspires people to become fully engaged with the vision, mission and strategy of your company or law firm.

                                                                              © Copyright 2010 Dr. Maynard Brusman, Working Resources

About Maynard Brusman

Dr. Maynard Brusman is a consulting psychologist and executive coach. He is the president of Working Resources, a leadership consulting and executive coaching firm. We specialize in helping San Francisco Bay Area companies and law firms assess, select, coach, and retain emotionally intelligent leaders. Maynard is a highly sought-after speaker and workshop leader. He facilitates leadership retreats in Northern California and Costa Rica. The Society for Advancement of Consulting (SAC) awarded Dr. Maynard Brusman "Board Approved" designations in the specialties of Executive Coaching and Leadership Development.

For more information, please go to, write to, or call 415-546-1252.

Subscribe to Working Resources Newsletter:
Visit Maynard's Blog:

Connect with me on these Social Media sites.

Box 1009, East Greenwich, RI 02818
Phone: 401-884-2778
Fax: 401-884-5068
© Society for the Advancement of Consulting. All Rights Reserved. Web Site Design and Hosting by
WebEditor Design Services, Inc.