Conflict is good. It leads to better decisions by providing a forum for your leadership team to be open and free with their opinions.
Why does leadership fear conflict? The concern for not allowing conflict is what if it becomes personal? How do you allow conflict to exist without it becoming personal? When team members are passionate and able to express themselves fully isn’t there a danger that things will get personal, and attacks on this level become inappropriate. How do you prevent this from occurring?
In fact there may be times when it will become personal. Yet by and large this is the exception.
To prevent it, you establish a set of conflict norms for your meetings that everyone on the executive team commits to follow.
Patrick Lencioni in Five Dysfunctions of a Team notes that the occasional personal attach is worth the value of building trust, accountability, commitment and results.
To decrease or eliminate the personal attacks build your conflict norms with your team. Their participation and commitment to these policies and procedures ensures their respect, observation and commitment to them.
Here’s an example of the conflict mode rules my client set in our last meeting:
- Don’t make it personal
- Objective - Solution to be reached. Context always surrounds better decisions, desired outcome or result.
- Spirited, passionate debate or language is permitted: Peer to Peer communication
- Everyone’s opinion should be expressed; participation required
- Be sensitive to others conflict style.
- Understand this is a safe environment; no fear of reprisal for your opinion.
Prior to building the set of norms the executive team members answered three questions about their experiences with conflict. Just the opportunity to express themselves allows for everyone to be more open and collaborative in the conflict mode setting process. Having had an opportunity to voice their experiences and beliefs makes them more open to the rules you decide upon. It also doesn’t hurt the possibility that someone with an opposing view will soften or compromise their views as well.
Is conflict a regular or occasional occurrence in your meetings? Would you say your meetings could enjoy some additional spice and engagement?
Conflict is good. It leads to better decisions. With your executive team engaged, providing passionate feedback and input you’ll be able to discern what’s best for your business.
Don’t allow the fear of conflict to prevent your need for better decision making to grow your business. Consider hiring a facilitator to usher in a new era of growth with your management team. The results you achieve will be satisfying and measurable.