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Tag Archives: Healthy Conflict
Conflict is a part of life.
It’s brought on by human nature. We each have different goals and dreams, and we each see the world just a little differently.
When you put us in a work environment, these natural forces become amplified — mostly by our ambitions — until they create inordinate amounts of tension, dysfunction, and stress.
This is, no doubt, why 70% of the American workforce is disengaged from their job.
For some reason, we are reluctant to address the conflict. Strange. It doesn’t have to be that way.
Alfred Sloan, when he ran General Motors in the 1920s and 1930s, would refuse to make a decision at a meeting if no one could argue a strong case against what was being proposed. He felt that if no one had any objections to what was being decided, it was because they had not thought long and hard enough about the question under consideration.
Alfred Sloan understood that the best ideas — along with the best decisions — are forged in the crucibles of healthy conflict. If there are no objections leading up to a decision, then either people just aren’t trying hard enough or your team isn’t working on hard enough problems. Clear thinking, innovation, and good decisions depend on diverse perspectives and opposing points of view.
Healthy conflict can be a tense arena. It takes bold leaders to create a safe space where everyone can be heard. And it takes confident followers to speak their mind even when they hold a minority point of view.
Working together is hard. Running an effective meeting can be even harder. One of the challenges is that everyone wants to be heard. To make it even more challenging, not everyone speaks up.
Setting a few ground rules is one of the surest ways to get everyone engaged while producing amazing results. Let it be known that you expect full engagement and everyone to be pulling in the same direction. My favorite set of ground rules comes out of the “New Games” movement from the 70’s. Their motto was Play Hard. Play Fair. Nobody Hurt. I can’t think of a better set of guiding principles for great meetings and vibrant teams.