Today's New York Times Business Section had an interesting interview of Anne Berkowitch, co-founder and Chief Executive of "SelectMinds", a social networking company in Manhattan. She talked about the keys to effective leadership and listed the most important as "being able to listen to people." She analogized to "steering from the back of the boat" as opposed to being the military general in front of the troops and the first one rushing into battle. As many of my readers know, my husband and I are avid sailors, so the metaphor really struck me as to the reason mediation can be so effective. The mediator is trained to do exactly as Berkowitch advocates. We bring together a group of people, get the best of them and get them wanting to work as a unit toward some goal post (settlement/resolution of their conflict). We listen to them, trying to understand what really motivates them (or is driving the conflict) and then get them to push themselves beyond their comfort zones. As I go off to relax on the boat this holiday weekend, I will be so happy to carry the metaphor into my week as the key to successful settlements of dispute. I wish you fair winds and smooth sailing!