founder of naked leader


Naked Leader Week – 58 – Monday 7 June 2004

This week Jane Gunn, of Corporate Peacemakers, shares her thoughts on Mediation.


“Difficulties are meant to rouse, not discourage.

The human spirit is to grow strong by conflict”

The survival instinct burns as strongly in each of us today as it did hundreds of thousands of years ago – in evolutionary terms we must win each battle to survive another day.

The tendency toward the instinctive fight or flight response to conflict is so deeply ingrained in out thoughts and feelings that for each individual and organisation it takes personal commitment and a genuine understanding of the alternatives to turn it around.

Traditionally conflicts and disputes are managed and resolved through adversarial argument or process. Often this begins with the way we communicate or talk with one another and translates into the types of processes we select to resolve conflicts and disputes at a more formal level. Think of the typical boardroom debate where people communicate with one another using rhetoric and presentation of ideas. The aim is to persuade others to agree and the need to win is a powerful source of self-esteem.

Litigation is a typical example of an adversarial dispute resolution process where the parties present their (legal) positions in an attempt to win the argument and compensation for their loss.

The adversarial approach to relationships has been identified as one of four key factors preventing companies from reaching their potential.* And so it does – in an age in which our businesses and our destinies are increasingly bound together people are beginning to see the value in collaboration instead of contest to resolve conflicts and disputes and are saving money, relationships and peace of mind in the process.

By incorporating the philosophy of mediation into all our work we can put people first in every business decision that we make.

*Tomorrow’s Company Report 1995

Scenario 1

Four business partners Jim, Louise, Clive and David sit outside the court and wait for the Judge to arrive, they have reached the end of the road. They will ask the court to dissolve the partnership and determine the amount each partner will receive, the business will be wound up and they will go their separate ways. Each partner has his own legal team to represent him, two partners are no longer speaking and one is receiving medical treatment and counselling for stress and depression as a result of the business break up. Each will fight the other to gain the settlement they feel is right under the terms of the partnership agreement.

Scenario 2

Four business partners Jim, Louise, Clive and David smile and shake hands.

After 10 hours in mediation a totally different picture has emerged from this dispute.

 During the mediation the Mediator has discovered: –

  • David, one of the partners has run up huge expense accounts, offended clients, been sharp and abusive in meetings and has been siphoning money from one of their accounts, and caused the business to spiral downward.
  • Jim had refused to acknowledge the impact of David’s behaviour, they are old school chums and go back a long way.
  • David’s daughter has been receiving treatment for drug and alcohol abuse and he has been spending time and money trying to help her
  • Jim wants to retire but Clive and Louise want to try and rescue the business
  • David wants to work for the charity that helped his daughter

 The mediator has helped the partners to explore the breakdown of their business relationship, helped them to understand what each wants as an outcome now and helped them formulate an agreement to reach that outcome that all have now signed.

Clive and Louise have agreed to continue the business with a new vision and purpose and with the specific aim of supporting a local charity that provides rehabilitation for troubled teenagers business. David will work for the charity and receive an agreed payment for his share in the business. Jim will retire but continue to support Clive and Louise as a consultant.

Jane Gunn

I have long admired Jane and her values, approach and genuine care to resolve issues that are often seem unresolvable. Jane can be contacted on and her website is

With love to you



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