Together You Stand, Divided You Fall
“Together you stand, Divided you fall.” Ancient Greeks, John Dickson, Patrick Henry,
This saying first captured my attention after watching the movie We Were Soldiers. In battle soldiers have been prepared to think about strategies that can divide and defeat them. They are warned that if they don’t stand together, their very lives are at stake.
Over the course of many years, I’ve come to realize how important it is for us to apply this truth in our daily lives…
- In sports – A division on a team may mean losing a game or a season.
- In business – A division can create internal barriers to success and prevent growth.
- In churches – A division can turn-off communities and cause current members to leave.
- In cities and countries – A division between government, business, education, non-profits and citizens can cause issues to continually repeat themselves and grow in magnitude as the years go by.
…While divisions in these situations may not result in immediate life or death for individuals… They can:
- Result in the life, death and overall effectiveness of entire organizations.
- Impact the way two people work together on a team, or the way thousands of people work together in a city or a country.
- Determine how well resources are utilized and how quickly problems are solved.
- Limit the amount of joy and commitment people have when they engage with that organization.
How does division start? …With something as tiny as a whisper… “Do you think so and so is __________?” (You fill in the blank.) Once asked, a seed of doubt has been sown. And that doubt can quickly become a growing focus that erodes trust and destroys relationships. Sometimes that whisper begins in reaction to pain, sometimes that whisper begins as a genuine question and other times that whisper begins as an intentional strategy for someone to manipulate and control a situation. Regardless of the reason, the results are destructive. On a small scale the whisper may damage one specific relationship. …On a large scale, fully grown seed of doubt create fear and mistrust that can entangle entire organizations and impact effectiveness for decades.
So in our human world, where gossip is viewed as news and consumed as a part of our daily diet and truth and accountability are not always easy to identify and execute… What can organizations do to protect themselves from division?
- Focus everyone on a clear and motivating vision that unites them in a meaningful cause. As Management Expert Ken Blanchard points out, “A vision builds trust, collaboration, interdependence, motivation, and mutual responsibility for success. A vision helps people make smart choices because their decisions are being made with the end in mind.”
- Establish core values AND a process of checks & balances so that EVERYONE is accountable to those values regardless of their position.
- Pro-actively teach your people why division is so harmful, and give them a common language and tools to use to limit division and to work through it when it begins to occur. (Peacemaker’s model encourages individuals to determine if they are naturally Peace-FAKERS, Peace-BREAKERS, or Peace-MAKERS, while arming them with tools to work through conflict instead of avoiding it or escalating it.)
…None of us can accomplish alone,
What is possible when we are working together!
- “Divide and Conquer” From a Latin Proverb
- “Together you stand, Divided you fall.” Ancient Greeks, John Dickson, Patrick Henry
- “A house divided against its self cannot stand.” Abraham Lincoln
- “…No city or house divided against its self will stand.” Matthew 12:25
- Leading at a Higher Level, Ken Blanchard: http://www.kenblanchard.com/About_Ken_Blanchard_Companies/Business_Leadership_Books/blanchard_on_leadership/
- Peacemaker’s Slippery Slope of Conflict: http://www.peacemaker.net/site/c.aqKFLTOBIpH/b.958151/k.5236/The_Slippery_Slope_of_Conflict.htm