Confrontation to Collaboration

A week ago, we all witnessed an ugly incidence at Madison Square Garden. Charles Oakley, former NY Knick great, became vocal and aggressive toward Knicks owner James Dolan, who was seated nearby. It was Oakley’s first time back to the Garden in years.

Anyone’s first reaction would be Oakley was out of line. Whatever his intentions, they were manifested in a way that was confrontational. When confrontation occurs, often we close ourselves off to options. Dolan’s response was equally confrontational, banning him from the Garden. So where does that leave things? While Dolan did apologize, and Oakley not receptive, it does beg for a little more insight.

From the leadership standpoint, Dolan’s Knicks first and foremost are there to serve their fans because they pay to watch and follow them and receive great pleasure in doing so. The organization’s culture is comprised of the fans, former players, and executives. If these stakeholders are engaged in support of the bigger mission of inclusiveness and intimacy, then all thrive. It’s a culture of inclusion.

So how does this situation shift from confrontation to collaboration. First, it’s starts with the leader, Mr. Dolan. He must ask himself “how were Oakley’s actions not in line with our beliefs and values?” Secondly, “in the long term, what’s the benefit to our organization of banning Oakley”? And thirdly, "how can Dolan walk the talk of the values and beliefs of the Knicks so that Oakley gets it"?

Great leaders find ways to listen and learn. Humility and accountability rest with leadership. It’s the tone and authenticity of both parties which enable collaboratjion to be productive. While I’m not sure if Oakley will accept the apology, the takeaway is lead with authenticity and walk the talk of your organizations’ values and beliefs. That way, all of the oars are pulling in the same direction. Not sure this happened! Everyone's a victim here including collaboration and Knicks culture!