Mom always hated it when the boys fought. There were three of us, until the last two came along, much later. I was the oldest. Sometimes we hated each other.
Tensions erupted when mom and dad were gone and I was left in charge. My younger brother hit me over the head with a broom, once. I’m sure I deserved it.
One brother was momma’s boy. He worked inside. The rest of us did the outside work on the farm. We teased him for working with mom.
Conflict frustrates leaders who:
- View it as distraction.
- Believe people should always enjoy each other.
- Want to fix it but don’t know how.
Successful leaders focus teams on things that matter. Conflict matters when it:
- Recurs persistently.
- Infects other teams or departments.
- Creates sides – battle lines that shift loyalties from organizations to individuals.
- Chokes productivity because of posturing, distrust, or sabotage.
Dealing with conflict:
- Hands-off when progress occurs. Monitor but stay away. Avoid rushing in to fix or save the day.
- Never expand scope. Don’t call a team meeting when it’s just two people. Cowardly leaders tell the whole team what two people need to hear.
- Reassign combatants so they don’t have to work with each other. Give up the notion that everyone has to get along.
- Pursue individual sweet spots.
- Expect respect.
- Honor strengths.
- Compensate for weakness.
Rejecting or soothing conflict short-circuits opportunities. Conflict presents opportunities for improvement and growth.
Improve processes and procedures when conflict reveals confusion about roles and responsibilities. Clarify authority and responsibility.
Personal conflicts are a matter of personal growth. The goals include:
- Expanding relational capacity not fixing others.
- Dealing with blind spots.
- Appreciating how strengths and weaknesses correspond and compensate.
Leaders see conflict and ask, “How can we be better?”
Bonus: “The Key to Healthy Conflict“
What are your strategies for dealing with conflict?