Thursday, March 19, 2015

How do Leaders Deal with Conflict? Day 18: 100 Days of Leadership


Leadership would be easy, if people just got along. I mean, how much time do leaders spend fixing conflicts that wouldn’t exist if we simply loved each another? Let me move on quickly, because I don’t need to convince you that conflict exists and is a reality in organizational and family life. The bigger discussion is how do leaders deal with interpersonal conflict?

I want offer one thought for dealing with negative conflict.

Nip it in the bud. Yes, that's right. When a relationship issue arises, do something about it. Cool it down before it flares up. Bad leaders throw fuel on the fire and cause explosions. Good leaders find ways to deal with conflict. They don’t let it fester like an infected, pus-wound. Leaders take initiative in this respect. If the conflict isn’t resolved, the passive aggressive nature kicks in. Let me explain. If there is not a mediation or resolution to the interpersonal conflict, then quite often people will hold onto the hurt and pain. Six months later, everything rises to the surface again because the original conflict wasn’t resolved. So do your best to nip it in the bud.

 I used the word ‘negative’ conflict earlier. Patrick Lencioni in The Five Dysfunctions of a Team speaks of teams needing to have a healthy conflict culture. He’s not speaking about the heated argument that gets out of hand. He’s saying that a team environment needs to be able to rigorously debate ideas, and not just agree on everything because people are too afraid to speak up. Leadership teams need to foster that kind of positive conflict, that creates better outcomes than if conflict didn’t exist.

What does the Bible say?

Matthew 18:15-17 -  “If your brother or sister sins, go and point out their fault, just between the two of you. If they listen to you, you have won them over. 16 But if they will not listen, take one or two others along, so that ‘every matter may be established by the testimony of two or three witnesses.’ 17 If they still refuse to listen, tell it to the church; and if they refuse to listen even to the church, treat them as you would a pagan or a tax collector.

What will I do now?

Will you deal with conflict as it arises? What does the Matthew 18 passage suggest is the process for conflict resolution?

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