Long, lean, and a mediation machine, Todd Wellman arrived at Roy Group with bags packed full of all sorts of tools to navigate conflict. Three decades of policing have polished his skills to a fine patina, and he is primed to share them with our clients to help them grow into their finest selves. Focused, attentive and on a perpetual quest for his own personal betterment, Todd creates a safe space for leaders to be vulnerable and open to learning new ways.
How did an ex-police officer come to be one of the Roy Group team?
One of the Roy Group vets, Anna Lisa Bond, and I first met many years ago during our previous careers and our lives kept intersecting. During a chance meeting in 2018, I was sharing my interests in mediation, leadership and personal development with Anna Lisa when she invited me to meet the Roy Group team for dinner. Over the last year or so, I’ve met many of the talented team and am humbled to have been asked to be a part of this organization.
How does your prior career shape what you bring to our clients now?
I started what became a 30-year career in policing when I turned 20. I had to grow up quickly and, even more so, learn how to settle disputes with my presence and communication skills. My exposure to critical incidents and subsequently, supporting those who responded to critical incidents, ultimately sparked my deep interest in the resilience of the human spirit, the power of vulnerability and the importance of consciously being in relationship. This informed my leadership style throughout my career, specifically when managing highly motivated individuals and groups, performance coaching and while building working relationships with community stakeholders. I supplemented my work experience with the formal study of mediation, negotiation and communications to enhance both my professional and personal interactions.
And I guess that worked out, because you’re known for your negotiation and mediation skills. What would you say is your strongest gift?
I think the gift I received as a result of being called into people’s trauma during their worst times was how to attend to the current circumstances and not judge anyone by what was happening in the moment. Previously, I’ve made the mistake of doing so, and have missed the opportunity to create connection rather than unfortunately furthering separation. I have learned to look beyond the surface and recognize — sometimes in direct contrast to what is being displayed — the potential for a person to not only recover from a mistake or from being involved in a terrible situation, but to thrive because of it. People are phenomenally capable of growth.
It’s important to be reminded that we are resilient and our potential is unlimited! When I have the opportunity to engage an individual or a group on a subject such as leadership development and techniques to better deal with conflict, or to coach someone through a challenging time, I get to remind them of that: that they have the knowledge, the strength and the support to define their direction, to make change and to find a better way.
Yes. People often have no idea how powerful they really are to create the reality they want through the choices they make. You’re right when you say our potential is unlimited. What is your key guiding perspective, and how does this shape the way you show up?
We are more than we think. By embracing the concept that we are all connected — that I flourish when you flourish, that I fail when you fail — I can approach every day with the mindset that we’re in this together, that we’re robust and that we’re here to prosper. When I see your potential, that’s reflected back to you. Once we change our mind and realize our potential…that’s half the battle. The other half is practice!
Ah, practice. It’s what really changes the game. The work is never done, right?
You are the work. And the work…
Is never-ending! So, how do you know when it’s time to engage conflict, and when it’s time to take a break?
Leadership isn’t driven or “done” by one person, it’s how that leader operates in a team environment. It’s the connections between us. During my career as a police officer, I had the opportunity to work with many diverse individuals, community groups and stakeholder agencies. Often this work included building rapport and creating safe spaces so we could begin to rebuild relationships that had been damaged due to a loss of trust and abuse. Although we all knew the tricky spots that would eventually have to be addressed, the time spent getting to know each other by sharing stories and breaking bread was invaluable. It’s a bit of an art to know when to bring the simmering pot of conflict onto the front burner. Before you turn the heat up, you have to ensure that the foundation of the relationship is built on trust and authenticity; this allows us to better embrace the conflict, to share our experiences and to explore common interests from which to strengthen our connection.
Right. There is indeed opportunity in conflict when trust forms part of the foundation. What’s important to remember when we’re engaged in difficult conversations?
I’ve realized how central it was — and is — for me to develop a conscious practice of reflection and pause, in order to stand firmly amid the chaos. It’s from this place that we harness both the possibilities and the courage required to define our own personal and unique path. It’s not easy to tackle difficult conversations or wade into conflict, especially if you’re not sure where you stand. Taking the time for self-contemplation, to define your purpose and to clarify your intentions (all of which takes its own amount of energy) absolutely helps us prepare for the tough stuff.
I almost want to go stir up some conflict so I can test out what it’s like to work with you!
What, you don’t already have conflict somewhere in your life? We can start there.
Good point. Begin where you are, Thoreau said. So Todd, what’s your jam when you’re not helping people navigate conflict?
I love spending time outdoors. I regularly expose my family to activities such as camping, star gazing, cracking open fresh oysters on the beach and harvesting chanterelle mushrooms from the forest. I love to read, travel, garden and move outside. I’ve built a straw bale house, hung out of a helicopter with a machine gun, sat shoulder to shoulder with indigenous elders and community in a sweat lodge, and cycled Vancouver Island from tip to tip. I also volunteer on the Board of Restorative Justice Victoria. I try and squeeze as much life out of each day that I can.