The Key to Healthy Conflict

kicking and fighting

A Facebook follower says, “I’d love to see a Leadership Freak blog post that addresses what healthy conflict looks like.”

Organizations pivot on conflict. Conflict strengthens or weakens relationships and organizations.

All healthy conflict has a “for.”

For or against:

Conflict often begins by fighting against something. Listen for expressions like:

  1. I don’t like.
  2. He always…
  3. I don’t want.

Fighting against:

  1. Enflames passion by focusing on offenses.
  2. Engages in personal attack.
  3. Invites defensiveness.

Healthy conflict fights for something. Develop phrases like:

  1. I want.
  2. My goal is…
  3. What does a win look like?

Successful leaders clarify wins when conflict begins.

Fighting for:

  1. Requires courage and vulnerability to declare yourself. Stop speaking for others. Speak for yourself.
  2. Defines success in behavioral terms. Be simple and specific.
  3. Defines success in organizational terms. How will “we” be better?
  4. Means starting fresh. Healthy conflict moves agendas forward. Moving forward means letting go of the past.
  5. Calls for alignment with organizational values, mission, and vision.

Unhealthy conflict only fights against. Healthy conflict knows what wins look like.

Bonus: Read comments about healthy conflict on Facebook.

What does healthy conflict look like?

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