Oftentimes, when we hear the word conflict we think “oooh, thats bad”. After all, just look at the definition:
to come into collision or disagreement; be contradictory, at variance, or in opposition.
The truth is, great leaders don’t shy away from conflict, but rather they embrace it and utilize it as a tool in the organizations they are involved with. Before we discuss 4 key reasons why great leaders embrace conflict, lets first acknowledge some of the ways conflict in organizations can be bad:
- Too much of it is a bad thing – people become conditioned to seek it out and be more focused on winning the argument of the day than taking the organization closer towards whatever it is trying to accomplish
- Conflict can get personal – rather than being a constructive conversation over a key issue it becomes two or more individuals personally attacking each other while losing sight of their purpose for being in the room
- If you create a culture where conflict is prevalent it can lead to an abandonment of an organization hierarchy and folks just challenging anyone in sight, rather than respecting a communication process, chain of command or specific way to handle issues
As a leader, you want to avoid the challenges associated with conflict while also using it to your advantage to make the organizations you are involved with better. Are the challenges worth it? Absolutely! Here are the four key reasons why great leaders embrace conflict:
- Builds Trust Among Teams – once people realize they can speak freely, make themselves vulnerable and be brutally honest to their peers, they share their most unfiltered thoughts, which ultimately creates trust amongst people. You don’t want your team walking on eggshells around each other, you want them willing to share how they feel, oppose each others’ ideas when necessary and challenge each other all in a safe and trustful environment.
- Creates an Entrepreneurial Environment – once others in your organization trust each other and feel safe saying how they truly feel, it will lead to more creative entrepreneurial idea sharing because they know they can say whatever ideas they have, get honest feedback and not feel hurt if it isn’t a great idea. This collaboration leads to great new ideas happening because good ideas are made great and bad ideas being shot down rather than happening simply because nobody wants to hurt their peers feelings.
- Leads to Organizational Growth – high performing organizations have a culture where it is okay to challenge someones thoughts or ideas, rather than telling them how wonderful those ideas are despite not actually feeling that way. Organizations can’t grow by everyone staying in their comfort zone and avoiding conflict.
- Saves Organizations Time – when people know they can challenge each others’ ideas in a safe way, they can then speak directly and openly immediately, rather than avoiding saying what is on their mind or talking around certain people to voice their opinions. If people in your organization cannot challenge each other directly, it leads to simple things taking exponentially more time and in many cases not being done in the best possible way. Rather than wasting time, having people feel like they have to bottle up their thoughts and letting small items becoming larger items, we want everyone in an organization to speak directly to one another.
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