I think I have applied mediation type skills over the past twenty five years of my career both as a social worker and for the past fifteen years as a manager and leader. I seem to have found myself in the capacity of an emergency roadside rescue service attending to failing services or organisations much as a mechanic might attend to a broken down car.
This has required a lot of negotiation and conflict resolution often when the conflict has been directed at me personally as the change agent and the originator of the distressing new systems.
At this point I guess I could proceed to a directorship of a large corporate social care organisation in the public sector and look to retire with a nice fat salary but truthfully I can think of nothing worse than ending my working days among the grey suits in endless meetings and performance reviews and other current managerial guff.
Enter mediation. I was researching the activity as a result of developing a publicly funded mediation service for Guernsey. My light bulb moment quickly came when I realised two significant facts. Firstly Mediation as an activity is very much at a growth point and the growth potential is significant and may well remain so for the next decade at least.
Secondly the activity is an interesting brew of several different and attractive ingredients. It makes a positive contribution to well-being and is therefore ethically valuable-this is important and the first question I ask about an activity in my prior commitment reflection-Is it worth doing?
It is boundaried. There are parameters. There are end points. There are measurable outcomes with actual effects. There is a skill base against which one can measure one’s development. It is about engagement with rather than power over. It has room for passion and artistry. It has space for excellence. It seeds into other fascinating areas like conflict resolution and labour conciliation. This is all very appealing and most of all it means that as a leader I can actually go and do some real work rather than spending my time interfering with my staff.
That last comment was in jest really. I do believe that effective balanced leadership is crucial but it needs to be like the butterfly’s wing in the air rather than the all too common thump of the jackboot.
Mediation offers me an area of practice that will complement the other areas of my work life very well and I believe it to be one of the most fruitful skill sets to manage the emotional traumas of family break-up to emerge in recent times.