Agreement and trust

Peter Block, author of The

Empowered Manager


, noted that the apparent power of those at the top is much

less than absolute. What leaders can do from the top down depends on the will of

those below. Block recommended that leaders analyze their relationship with each

of their essential people by asking two questions:

  1. How much do I trust them?
  • How much do I agree with them?
  • Block then offered this grid to help leaders think about how to build support

    for change initiatives:

    For each relationship, leaders have to employ different strategies. As the Michigan

    Department of Education Office of School Improvement helpfully

    summarized

    :
    • Allies (high agreement / high trust). Affirm both

    the relationship and your agreement about the school. Discuss shared doubts and

    vulnerabilities and ask for advice and support.

  • Opponents (high trust / low agreement). Affirm the
  • relationship, and state your own position on the school issue. Check out your

    perception of THEIR differing position. See if you can find a way to

    problem-solve together.

  • Bedfellows (high agreement / low trust). Affirm
  • the agreement on the school issue. Acknowledge that reasons for caution exist,

    then try to be as clear as possible about what you'd want from your bedfellow in

    terms of working together. Ask what she wants from you. See if you can reach

    agreement.

  • Fence-Sitters (low trust / unknown agreement).
  • State your position on the school issue and ask where the fence-sitter

    stands. Press gently for an answer if he delays. Ask the fence-sitter to let you

    know what it would take for him to support your position and work with you.

  • Adversaries (low agreement / low trust). State
  • your position on the school issue. Check out your understanding of their

    position. Own up to your own contribution to the disagreement. Let the adversary

    know your plans and end the meeting with no demand.

    As I think about Block's categories, several thoughts come to mind related to

    enacting a school change initiative:

    • Allies both trust you and agree with you. Check in with them to

    ensure that they're on board but spend the bulk of your time focusing on other

    groups.

  • Opponents trust you, they just don't agree with you at this moment.
  • This is a group that likely can be persuaded.

  • Bedfellows agree with you but either you don't trust them or they
  • don't trust you. If the latter, there are some strategies you can employ to

    address that. If the former, you know they're on board but it's an uneasy

    relationship. Either way, they're in agreement so you probably don't need to

    spend much time on them. Just watch your back.

  • You can probably move some, but not all, of the fence-sitters into
  • the bedfellows category by following some of the strategies listed.

    Even so, it's going to be an uneasy relationship.

  • Maybe you can move some of your adversaries to a different place in
  • the grid. Probably not. The best you can do is employ some of the strategies

    listed above and hope for the best. Good luck.

    The reason I like Block's grid so much is that it really emphasizes the

    political relationships that exist within organizations. As I discussed earlier

    this week, paying attention to the political

    aspects of change initiatives

    is often vital for their success.

    Who are your allies, opponents, adversaries, and bedfellows? Can you share an

    example of how this framework applies to a recent change initiative in your

    school organization?

    'Upstreamism': Your zip code affects your health as much as genetics

    Upstreamism advocate Rishi Manchanda calls us to understand health not as a "personal responsibility" but a "common good."

    Sponsored by Northwell Health
    • Upstreamism tasks health care professionals to combat unhealthy social and cultural influences that exist outside — or upstream — of medical facilities.
    • Patients from low-income neighborhoods are most at risk of negative health impacts.
    • Thankfully, health care professionals are not alone. Upstreamism is increasingly part of our cultural consciousness.
    Keep reading Show less

    Meet the Bajau sea nomads — they can reportedly hold their breath for 13 minutes

    The Bajau people's nomadic lifestyle has given them remarkable adaptions, enabling them to stay underwater for unbelievable periods of time. Their lifestyle, however, is quickly disappearing.

    Wikimedia Commons
    Culture & Religion
    • The Bajau people travel in small flotillas throughout the Phillipines, Malaysia, and Indonesia, hunting fish underwater for food.
    • Over the years, practicing this lifestyle has given the Bajau unique adaptations to swimming underwater. Many find it straightforward to dive up to 13 minutes 200 feet below the surface of the ocean.
    • Unfortunately, many disparate factors are erasing the traditional Bajau way of life.
    Keep reading Show less

    Golden blood: The rarest blood in the world

    We explore the history of blood types and how they are classified to find out what makes the Rh-null type important to science and dangerous for those who live with it.

    Abid Katib/Getty Images
    Surprising Science
    • Fewer than 50 people worldwide have 'golden blood' — or Rh-null.
    • Blood is considered Rh-null if it lacks all of the 61 possible antigens in the Rh system.
    • It's also very dangerous to live with this blood type, as so few people have it.
    Keep reading Show less

    Scientists create a "lifelike" material that has metabolism and can self-reproduce

    An innovation may lead to lifelike evolving machines.

    Shogo Hamada/Cornell University
    Surprising Science
    • Scientists at Cornell University devise a material with 3 key traits of life.
    • The goal for the researchers is not to create life but lifelike machines.
    • The researchers were able to program metabolism into the material's DNA.
    Keep reading Show less