Thursday, January 23, 2014

Make It Safe for Conflict

"Words without action is a colossal failure of leadership."
- Jay Kuhns, 2014 

Finally, a quote for the ages! Or, at least for this blog.

The longer I work in leadership the more I realize that simply saying words, even the most powerful ones, simply lose their impact without follow through. At no time is that more important that discussing the critical role that conflict plays in the world of work.

Trust First
One of the burdens of leadership is to create trust among the members you lead. Meghann Biro's article in Forbes describes key leadership behaviors that help us achieve that trust. We've all learned, some quickly and others not so quickly, that we can not do it all. We must surround ourselves with bright minds that add value to the work we are responsible for producing.

We've also learned that when you have more than one person working on an issue, conflict is sure to arise. That's a good thing! Conflict is what pushes our thinking...expands our point of view...creates energy...and gets even better results than what the original idea might have done.

Unless the leader completely messes it up, and conflict crashes down on the team like an anvil from Road Runner.

You're the Leader for a Reason
Introducing conflict as a positive tool to move ideas forward and achieve breakthrough results may not be a new concept; but it is a new practice. The stigma associated with conflict is often negative and is considered something that "should be dealt with."

Wait a minute! Have we actually programmed our leaders to think that challenging ideas is a bad thing? Obviously crossing the line to rude or inappropriate behavior is not what I'm advocating; however, creating an environment where leaders and employees can challenge each others perspectives is not only healthy, it should be required.

That's right. It should be a requirement that in order to be considered an effective leader you must create a culture that embraces positive conflict as a strategy.

How About You
What is the culture in your workplace? Do your team members, colleagues, and organization embrace conflict strategically? Or, is that simply a behavioral issue that HR needs to take care of?

I'd love to hear from you.

No Excuses.


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