My natural tendency is to stray away from conflict. To overlook it, dismiss or try to passively deal with it. The longer I am in leadership the more I understand this approach to conflict is unhealthy and hurtful to those I am leading. As a leader I should approach conflict straight on and with compassion.The most dangerous time in leadership isn’t when there is intense conflict; it is when those you are leading aren’t saying anything. When people are quiet doesn’t always mean they are in agreement or happy. In fact it could mean the exact opposite. With that being said lets look at the importance of conflict and how we can deal with it as a leader.
What Conflict brings:
- Conflict brings Clarity
Conflict gives you the ability as the leader to re-communicate the vision to those you are leading. By getting everything on the table and clearing the air will allow for more focused work and clearer expectations to those you are leading.
- Conflict brings Communication
Often times conflict arises because people feel that they don’t have a voice or have misunderstood your voice. When conflict arises it is a good time to open the door of communication with those you are leading answer their questions and concerns. Conflict also gives them a voice. Let those you are leading communicate to you. This will bring buy in and in most cases a deeper level of commitment.
- Conflict brings Connection
Another cause for conflict is a lack of connection to the leader. Conflict when handled correctly can bring greater connection between you and those you are leading- if the conflict is handled correctly.
Conflict is inevitable in leadership. The question isn’t IF you are going to deal with it but HOW. As a leader how we respond to conflict is an important piece in dealing with conflict.
3 Don’ts when handling conflict
- Don’t take it personally
If there is conflict with someone you are leading it doesn’t mean you are a bad person or a bad leader. When we take conflict personally it has the potential to hinder our influence in those we are leading life. Conflict is going to happen and security as a leader is important when dealing with conflict.
- Don’t lord over the conversation
It is easy to dominate or control the situation whenever conflict is present but it isn’t the best way to handle conflict. When someone you lead has a point of conflict and doesn’t feel safe to communicate it they wont…this only leads to bigger conflict. Don’t lord over the conversation. Make sure the environment is safe and respectful for all parties involved. If you do this you will gain the trust of the people you are leading.
- Don’t carry it
This is probably the most important point. For conflict to bring a positive result we cannot carry the conflict. Deal with it as a situation and lead the person through the conflict. A secure leader will have buy in at the end of conflict. Make sure the conflict is resolved with the person(s) you lead, but more importantly make sure it is resolved in your heart.
What would you add to these three?