Harnessing Conflict

Take a few moments to ponder and rate the following questions.

On a scale of 1 to 5,

1 is Low or Negative and

5 is High or Positive.

[   ] 1. What is your comfort level with conflict?

[   ] 2. What is your team’s level of comfort with conflict?

[   ] 3. Does it feel like the issues in meetings are fully explored or are opinions and facts left out?

[   ] 4. Do my team members confront each other when performance is not what it should be?

[   ] 5. Do my team members look for feedback from others in meetings – even those with whom they disagree?

[   ] 6. Are people comfortable pushing back at me when they think I am wrong?

Score ______ If your score is less than 18 you and your team may be either Conflict Adverse or Highly Combative.

Conflict Adverse Behaviors may seem positive yet there is often sabotage by team members that disagree with the direction but don’t want to openly disagree. People are often unwilling to engage which often creates a lack of trust and respect.

Highly Combative Behaviors of raised voices and loss of control by participants with personal attacks also create a lack of trust and respect with participants wanting to win over doing what is right. Aggressive participants who are more concerned with ego and personal gain overpower more quiet and conflict adverse participants.

Creating a culture that embraces positive conflict can result in goal focused respectful communication that is assertive. There may be strong discussions, but tough issues are addressed and moved forward. Because all voices are heard participants can support and implement decisions. There can be many reasons for having too little or too much conflict you may have a:

  • Confusing organizational design and/or authority limits
  • CEO and other leaders are not modeling the correct behavior
  • Lack of clear objectives, strategy and vision
  • Lack of established Values or they are not clearly stated
  • Lack of trust
  • Leaders or employees unwilling to hold others accountable
  • Hallway reversals allowed (lack of commitment)
  • Some bad apples on the team
  • Rewards are misaligned

Conflict is not a by-product of personal interactions or individual personalities, it is a failure to lead. If you suffer from negative behaviors we can help you develop the capability:

  1. make sure that your objective and vision are clear
  2. develop trust with your team
  3. establish behavioral agreements that
    1. establish positive expectations and
    2. don’t allow personal attacks
  4. begin to enforce your agreements
  5. optimize preparation for decisions
  6. model and reward correct behavior
  7. insist on commitment once everyone is heard and a decision is made

Creating a culture that embraces positive conflict begins with the top leaders. This is a leadership skill and mindset that is necessary for productive long term success if you or other team members try to ramrod their agendas because things don’t go their way, your team will be able to call you or the guilty party on it and handle the conflict with composure.

Harnessing conflict is a powerful leadership tool. If your team sees a consistent and stalwart leader, they will maintain follow with the same composure when faced with tough situations. Make conflict work for you to make better decisions and get better results.

Want to develop the skills in reducing negative conflict and optimizing positive conflict?

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Call (303) 439-2001 Action Insight, Inc. - Broomfield, Colorado 80020

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Topic areas: work place conflict, leadership qualities, emotional intelligence, Stephen Moulton, employee engagement, developing talent