In a world of rapidly changing social norms, Winning Together requires better consultation strategies, better listening and the courage to share when it might involve getting pushback.
On 26 July 2022 the National Rugby League celebrated the Women In League round and the progress women are making in rugby.
Unfortunately, a lack of consultation derailed the celebrations, with the media focus turning to the Manly Sea Eagles and Sydney Roosters game. In the lead up to the game, the Sea Eagles men’s team learned, from the media, that they would be wearing a gay pride jumper to show support for the LGBTQ community. With half of the team refusing to play because of their religious beliefs on this issue, the NRL and the Sea Eagles were now managing confusion and hurt on multiple fronts.
Commenting on the consultation process, the Manly Sea Eagles coach Des Hasler said, “Sadly, the execution of what was intended to be an extremely important initiative was poor. There was little consultation or collaboration between key stakeholders, both inside and outside the club. Our intent was to be caring and compassionate towards all diverse groups who face inclusion issues daily. However, instead of enhancing tolerance and acceptance, we may have hindered this. This was the opposite of our intent”.
Winning together on or off the field takes great skill, especially when relationships get off track. Here are three practical steps to keep winning together : -
Relate by having a mindset of curosity, and behaviours that are empathetic and non-judgemental. This will make it easier to stay in discovery mode, and to find the common ground that motivates further understanding and cooperation.
Resolve by establishing agreed principles that support collaboration and joint problem solving. Follow this by framing contentious issues as mutual and neutral, and by giving careful consideration to how the issues are sequenced and paced.
Restore by recognising how the other party has been impacted, and moving from words to actions that motivate an ongoing commitment to the relationship.
- If differences are about values and beliefs, avoid making the negotiations public and drawing in stakeholders who make it harder for those involved to save face.
- Learn about the reference groups that are important to the other party, and why, how and to whom they want to describe their outcome.
- Consider how future events could impact on the relationship’s ability to keep winning together, and the strategies needed to mitigate the risks.