The Conflict Conundrum

The big, bad C word…CONFLICT.

It’s one of the most mis-understood “challenges” in companies today.

I say this as a direct result of a recent experience my team and I encountered.

So in addition to it being timely, I felt compelled to share my thoughts and perspective on this matter hoping it will help you and your team as much as it’s helped me and mine…

Conflict by definition is, “A serious disagreement or argument, typically a protracted one.”  

To most, the word itself evokes feelings of negativity.  

I’ll be the first to admit…I was guilty of that myself.  

However, knowing what I know NOW, my perspective has entirely shifted.  This has become one of those “Ah-ha” moments I wish I would’ve learned much earlier in the game of business…

It all started about 18 months ago…

My team and I were on one of our weekly leadership calls.  The topic of integrating a business operating system into our operations structure arose. We had been thinking about it for some time, and for whatever reason it was brought up this time, and we discussed it.

We all agreed that if our goal was to build and scale 8 and 9 figure businesses, it was definitely worth implementing. What did we have to lose? 

We said we’d implement it for one year with 100% commitment and evaluate. (The business operating system we chose to incorporate was Vern Harnish’s Scaling Up.  In order to implement most effectively, we hired a Scaling Up coach with a year commitment so that we could implement the new operating system most effectively.)

One HUGE thing we discovered right off the bat (or should I say UNCOVERED) was worth the entire year’s investment.   

This discovery came in two parts:

1. Conflict is good, not bad. Conflict must exist for growth to continue on a healthy and steady incline

2. Our realization that we (as a team) avoided conflict at all cost

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We were very complimentary of each other… that skill we had down. 

But anytime even the thought of addressing an “elephant in the room”, caused many of us to scatter.  No one on the team took accountability on this front (even me, as the leader).

Our coach asked us all to read the book, Five Dysfunctions of a Team, which I highly recommend you pick up. (Tip: As a team leader, don’t read this book in isolation… read it with your entire team).  

We went through the book as a team, chapter by chapter to address each of the dysfunctions outlined in the book.

We quickly became more and more comfortable with all the different areas of conflict. Slowly the negative connotation we all held about conflict began to fall away.

We then learned one of the most productive ways to embrace and address conflict…  

Turns out….Open, honest and transparent communication was KEY to overcoming the conflicts we encountered.

Full transparency: It took us all a while to adapt to our “new world”. We had to continually encourage each other to embrace conflict (as our default behavior had been to avoid it on some level).

But we kept at it.  We made it part of our communication system on a daily, and weekly basis.

We became more and more comfortable vocalizing conflicts and then working together and individually to find a solution.

People on our team that would shy away from conflict in the past, started stepping up. Realizing that avoiding conflict caused way more damage than confronting it.  

We began seeing differences immediately (internally as a team and externally with clients).

We were more accurate.

We were more aligned.  

We were more efficient.  

We trusted each other more.

We reached our goals sooner.

It all started with shifting our mindset on what conflict meant to us. Then we had the choice to reframe conflict on our terms. This led to an open, honest, transparent and authentic communication line.

You’ll hear me say this a lot: Communication builds trust.

And trust builds high-performance teams.

Addressing conflict is definitely something I wish I learned a long time ago… 

Now think about conflict areas that exist in your organization. 

How can changing your mindset of what conflict means change things for you and your team?

Remember, there’s no time like the present. 

As always, feel free to reach out to me if you’d like to schedule a discovery call with my team… let’s brainstorm how we can help you build your infinite business.

To your success, 

David

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