Business is Personal; How Conflict Can Make You a Better Leader

Business is Personal; How Conflict Can Make You a Better Leader

“The people to fear are not those who disagree with you, but those who disagree with you and are too cowardly to let you know.”

-Napoleon Bonaparte

We know that conflict isn’t fun. Yet we know that without engaging in productive conflict, the result can be anywhere from the ‘silent treatment’ all the way to a violent outcome.

Leaders owe it to themselves and to their organizations to create an environment that encourages robust, generative, and effective conflict conversations among all associates.

Conflict is an incompatibility between two or more interests. And it is inevitable – at work or home. Conflict — when effectively managed — is a dynamic force for innovation and change. Your organization can actually benefit from conflict. The key is knowing how to manage conflict and use it for good.

Work Through Conflict

The next time you have a disagreement, step up and find a way to engage in a productive conversation about it. Here are a few key steps to help you get to and through conflict:

Step 1: Prepare. Exactly what do you disagree with? Why?

Step 2: Set the tone and present the content and context of your disagreement.

Step 3: Request the other to just listen, and promise to do the same after you have presented your view.

Step 4: Ask if the other is prepared to engage in a conversation with you. If so, sit quietly and listen.

Step 5: Together, identify potential solutions to the disagreement.

Give it a try and see how it goes. You may find that your relationship improves, not to mention your own sense of esteem for having had the courage to speak your truth.

-Micki McMillan