Manbir Kaur – Helping Leaders, Teams & Organizations

Is conflict good or bad? May not be always bad. In some of the cases, it may be one of the tools for the leaders in the organization.

Why conflict is important?

Most of the organizations are “Matrix” based, with different functions working on specific areas. There are many reasons for conflict within an organization, some of them are listed below:

  • While everyone believes they are helping the organization succeed, each must secure the resources to achieve their own business goals. No organization has unlimited resources or funds, so there is bound to be conflict.
  • Top Down versus Bottom up approach to various facts of business such as target revenue, Innovation etc.
  • Internal vs External: What market dynamics tell you about the needs of people, vs what you feel is a latent potential. Steve Jobs said “People don’t know what they want until you show it to them. That’s why I never rely on market research. Our task is to read things that are not yet on the page.”
  • Risk vs Results: Do you want to play safe and deliver expected results or want to take some risks and surprise people with great results?

Conflicts are really an integral part of any organization that is chasing excellence. It is really important for the leaders to harness the power of conflict to get the best results for all.

How can a leader use the power of conflict?

Great teams do not see conflict as problem but as an opportunity to evaluate options and do the best.  A leader must ensure a few things to harness the power of conflict-

  • Define the purpose and focus of the team and keep reiterating this
    • Leader must make sure that everyone looks at the big picture.
    • Leader must also take all opportunities to repeat the purpose and align teams.
    • Leader must make sure that ideas are evaluated based on their relation to the big picture, rather than who brought them up. Removing who from what.
  • Facilitate Open and Honest Dialogue
    • Best leadership teams are the ones that can have an open dialogue.
    • No one in the team must be afraid of bringing up a point and challenging others.
    • No one must take a challenge personally.
    • Ability to manage constructive tension is one of the top indicators for a great team.
  • Help the team to keep an open mind
    • It is not always “this” or “that”.
    • If people work together, they can always find a way to have the best of both the worlds.
    • For example, both top down and bottom up approaches can drive innovation in the company with the right balance of empowerment.

Conflict has the power of making great teams even greater. A leader must channelize the conflict to take the team to the next level.

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