Unless you live on a deserted island, you’ve probably experienced it with someone. Sometimes, conflict manifests itself in an outburst of emotion and sometimes it’s just a sense of tension between two or more people. And sometimes there’s conflict we aren’t even aware exists (which is the worst kind). But whatever the case, conflict distracts us and makes our teams less productive if we don’t address it. And as leaders, we have to take action.
So what can we do about it?
First, we need to recognize the source of the conflict. Is it over an idea? A different way of doing something, solving a problem or how to seize an opportunity. Or is the conflict arising from different behavioral stylesand how we communicate? Or is it because you or someone else has an agenda—maybe a selfish or altruistic one? If we can identify the source of the conflict, then we have the opportunity to resolve it effectively. It might not be easy, and it might take some courage, but it is possible.
If we’ve identified the conflict is over behavioral and communication styles, we can attempt to adapt our own style some and invite others to do the same. Maybe we are analytical and detail conscious. So perhaps we need to be willing to look at the big picture in a given situation. And if we are a bottom-line, let’s just get to it and make a decision sort of person, perhaps we can become more thoughtful, more willing to listen to someone who needs to work through all of the risks and opportunities of a given situation. We need to seek an agreement with others to keep focusing on the idea, problem or opportunity.
Dealing with people with an altruistic agenda isn’t nearly as difficult as when we suspect they have a selfish agenda. In this case, we have to recognize there’s little we can do to prove our belief. The only thing we can do is take responsibility for our side of the relationship—what, when, and how we say something. We may need to gently challenge someone with this type of an agenda by asking, “Help me understand why you believe this so strongly.” Or when we are offering our own positions, we might suggest, “I might be wrong, but here is what I think.”Accusations rarely accomplish much. But we might actually learn something from someone that can help us build a better relationship. When someone has an altruistic agenda, we simply have to stay focused on the ideasregarding how resources are allocated to solve a problem or achieve a goal.
Finally, we have to realize conflict itself natural. And it can be very productive. When people trust one another, spirited debate is possible. And that debate can help us expose biases in our decision-makingand leadership styles. It can help us produce new ideas, innovate, and become more productive. And if we never have any conflict within our teams, chances are we are missing opportunities for our organizations to prosper.
Now please, don’t argue with me. I know I’m right! Or maybe not.
If you’ve found this information useful, encouraging or might see a way we can improve it, please let us know. And if you thought it was encouraging, forward it to a friend so they can subscribe. If you want to find out more about how Performance Strategies Group helps organizations sharpen their sales skills and processes, builds more self-aware and resilient leaders, or equip more productive teams, find us online at http://www.psghsv.com, or call Principal Consultant, Jim Owens @ 256-426-0305.