A DMZ (demilitarized zone) is an area where opposing parties are not allowed to carry out attacks against each other. There is a demilitarized zone in network security, which is a network that is used to connect hosts that provide an interface to an untrusted external network, usually the internet.
The DMZ we are all more familiar with is a zone where countries do not allow their militaries to go. This zone is not considered to be property of either side, but rather it is considered a neutral place where no military action can take place.
Once such demilitarized zone, and probably the most notable, is located between the countries of North Korea and South Korea. These two countries were at war during the years of 1950 – 1953, simply called The Korean War. This war has never officially ended with a treaty as most other wars have. Because of this, a demilitarized zone was established near the 38th parallel north to separate the two countries and act as a buffer zone. Until the war is officially ended with a treaty, this DMZ will remain in place.
Using this same idea, there is what I call The Leadership DMZ. The Leadership DMZ is a neutral place where leaders, who may disagree on other things (sometimes many other things), can meet and have common ground on which they can build new ideas. It’s a place where these otherwise disagreeing leaders do agree. This place may be a physical place or it may be an idea, a goal, or an outcome they can all get behind and would like to see accomplished. Establishing this Leadership DMZ may not do away with all the disagreements, but it can at least move an organization forward toward its future potential.
Here are some steps to Establishing a Leadership DMZ:
1) Remember what the ultimate goal is
Using our earlier example of the war between North and South Korea, the original goal for some involved was to take all the land. Eventually, the ultimate goal was not to die. This being the case, both sides agreed to a stalemate that has lasted to this day. It wasn’t the desired situation, but it has worked.
This same concept can go for business organizations, ministry organizations, sports organization, etc. When we remove ourselves from the equation and get back to thinking of the group as a whole, it makes establishing this Leadership DMZ easier because it’s no longer about “you and me”, it’s about “us and we”. Remember what the ultimate goal is.
2) Avoid the “all or nothing” mentality
This has probably stopped a lot of potentially great teams from doing anything of significance. Having an all or nothing mentality depends totally on one outcome or another to occur and there will always be a loser.
If we can avoid this mentality and not need to get everything we want out of the situation, we have a lot better of a chance of seeing great things done. Remember, we’re not talking about average people here. We’re talking about leaders; people who already have a tendency to get great things done and can get even greater things done working together! Remember to avoid the “all or nothing” mentality.
3) Give others a voice
This is where the DMZ can get a little less neutral and more territorial, but it can be done. I say this because leaders already have a tendency to lead things and call the shots and it’s totally natural to want our ideas to not only win, but for it to be known that it was our idea that won.
With a little practice (and self-awareness) these urges can be kept under our control and other leaders involved can be allowed to have a voice in the matter as well. Not every idea can be implemented, but everyone involved can be given a chance to give an idea or two. You never know. There may be a great idea that comes out of it! Remember to give others a voice.
4) Let the best ideas win
If we’ve made it this far in establishing a Leadership DMZ, then this last step will almost ensure a great win is around the corner. When the same person’s ideas aren’t the only ones “winning”, but the best idea is allowed to win, victory is almost guaranteed. The only thing left to do is to go out and implement the idea! You lose nothing and you gain everything by letting the best ideas win.
It is of great importance to learn ways to work around leadership disagreements. Establishing a Leadership DMZ is one of those ways.
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