“As a long-time resident of Akron,” Professor Bill Lyons noted that he is “deeply impressed by the courage and resilience demonstrated by members of my city council. They have engaged with us openly and from the heart, putting the needs of their wards and our city first. If this is what our new generation of leaders have in store for Akron, I am confident we are in good hands.” Akron City Council has been working with Professor Lyons from the University of Akron to sort out a series of questions and challenges that came up during recent council meetings—the kind of challenges that can emerge in any workplace and often make it more difficult for those in that workplace to get their work done.
Council’s work with Professor Lyons continues to move forward. The goal is to come together as a legislative body to renew the councils’ long tradition of collaborative leadership in Akron by working with a community member who has expertise and experience assisting others with challenges like these. The council seeks to “be the change,” enacting a shared effort, as the mayor put it, to learn to “listen first, speak truthfully without accusation, respect dissent and partner with diverse communities to accomplish shared goals."
“It is critically important,” according to Professor Lyons, “for us all to remember that conflict is normal. It happens every day, in all of our lives. It is inaccurate and counterproductive for us to pretend that conflict signals dysfunction or that only those ‘on the prison track’ have conflicts in their lives. We all do. What separates leaders from the rest of us is how we choose to address conflicts, the degree to which we develop the skills needed to lead from the heart, listen to and honor competing and alternative perspectives, and come together to focus on problem solving. In a context where we have authentic and collaborative leadership conflict becomes an opportunity to step up, as council is now doing, to become leaders in our own lives.”