Warm sun. Calm waters. Good friends. The wind in your sails. A competent crew.
The ideal circumstances for sailing – rarely happen. Something is typically off. Often multiple issues invade your serenity. Mistakes get made. The weather doesn’t cooperate. The captain shows up in a bad mood.
And the conflict begins. It’s unavoidable. This is just as true in life as it is in business. You will have great days and good seasons. But the potential for conflict always lurks just below the surface.
Few people enjoy conflict. And even fewer people enjoy the people who enjoy conflict!
But conflict cannot be avoided. As a leader, you are strategically positioned to harness the positive energy that healthy conflict can create.
Healthy conflict can achieve greater efficiency and trust in your team. Which can boost the bottom line. Most importantly, as you leverage positive conflict, you can make the world a better place by making your workplace better.
How can you do this? Let’s dive in!
Avoiding Workplace Conflict is Costly
There is a massive cost in dodging conflict. According to research by Joseph Grenny, “employees waste an average of $1,500 and an 8-hour workday for every accountability conversation they avoid.”
That’s just the financial cost. Avoiding conflict has a ripple effect that reaches far beyond finances and production. It erodes trust in an organization – structurally and personally.
Perhaps most concerning is the impact conflict avoidance will have on the families, neighborhoods, and social groups to which your team members will return.
Powerful companies like Southwest Airlines intentionally promote managers who can discern and disrupt “artificial harmony.”
Elizabeth Bryant, the vice president of training, says that the company now promotes middle managers to executive positions partly based on their ability to spark conflict among the staff.
Navigating a Sea of Conflict Management
When you peer into the waters of conflict management, you may feel like you’re trying to find the bottom of the ocean.
There is seemingly no end to the theories, strategies, and tools to engage in conflict management.
Much of the content is helpful. Here are three wonderful guides that will prove to be an immense benefit to you.
- Patrick Lencioni discusses how without conflict, there can be no meaningful commitment among your team.
- John Maxwell offers ten commandments for handling conflict.
- The Franklin Covey Company offers a course on Steven Covey’s Seven Habits of Highly Effective People. Applying these habits to conflict resolution cultivates health.
One of the challenges to learning how to engage conflict in a healthy way is the sheer depth of content available. After just a little research, you may not feel equipped. You may feel overwhelmed.
I understand. As a licensed coastguard captain, I have seen conflict threaten to derail many crews. That’s why I’m pointing you to helpful resources for more in-depth consideration.
But I don’t want to see you get lost at sea. The world needs healthy, courageous leaders now more than ever. Peace is possible.
A Conflict Resolution Forumla That Adds Up to Health
At Full Sail Leadership Academy, we have found that MV2 + I2 always equals health. Let me explain.
When conflict stays within the framework of Mission, Vision, Values + Ideas, and Issues – then healthy progress can be made.
Within this framework, leaders can address the problem and not make it personal. MV2 + I2 reinforce the aspirational culture of the company and not any one person’s preferences.
A leader can also utilize this formula to keep the conversation focused on solutions. That’s why ideas and issues are combined.
Further, when Mission and Vision are prioritized, it allows everyone involved to recognize that they are a part of something bigger than themselves.
When conflict steps outside of this formula, you run a great risk of lowering morale, fostering negativity, and hindering productivity.
3 Core Concepts for Healthy Conflict in the Workplace
While the right formula can offer helpful guardrails, there is something that matters more in conflict than skill or technique: the heart of the leader.
I’ve boiled down the core components of a healthy leader’s heart in conflict resolution.
If you implement these three steps, conflict can be transformed from a storm that threatens to sink your ship into the wind that fills your sails and propels you and your team to greater health.
- Believe the best
- Desire the best
- Pursue the best
1. Believe the Best About Your Team in Your Workplace
How do you view your employees? Does your team know that you believe in them? That you appreciate how they are more than a cog in a machine?
Can your team feel your understanding of how they are people in progress – not all good, not all bad, and not finished yet?
What we believe about the people on our team is the rudder that directs our conflict resolution. The rudder is under the water, so it’s not seen. But its impact on the direction of the sailboat cannot be overstated.
If we believe the best about a particular employee with whom we have to resolve conflict, we will approach the conversation in a far more disarming, winsome, and productive way.
2. Desire the Best for Your Team in Your Workplace
One of the most incisive questions we can be asked is simply – what do you want?
How we answer that question reveals as much information about our hearts as is held in the Library of Congress.
What do you desire – for your team? What do you want for their families? Neighbors? Book club members?
Do you want to cultivate health in people that infuse reasonableness into the world? People who are willing to communicate? Who have seen that correction does not equal rejection?
Do you want to see your team grow in competence – and character?
Developing a culture that sees conflict as an opportunity for mutual growth and understanding will have cascading benefits.
We can’t avoid conflict if we desire the best for our team. We can’t settle. We must press in and help them grow.
And that brings us to our final step.
3. Pursue the Best for Your Team in Your Workplace
Conflict cannot be avoided. Not in business. Not in life. If we nurture a conflict-averse workplace culture, we will do much damage.
Money will be lost. People will miss out on opportunities to grow professionally. Communities will be impacted.
(pic of a leaking boat)
When left unaddressed, conflict can be like water leaking into a boat. If you ignore it, your ship will sink.
If you only deal with the symptoms, you can exhaust yourself “bailing out the water,” derail your focus, and abdicate more pressing responsibilities.
But if you care enough to pursue your team’s best, you can address the core issue. You can plug the hole. And the ship can sail as it was intended.
If you are an organization’s point leader, you cannot let this moment pass. Too much is at stake for too many.
People need leaders who believe the best about them, desire the best for them, and will pursue their best with them.
Workshops that Expose and Address the Core Issues of Conflict in the Workplace
Our workshops are designed to help teams in all stages of health engage with each other in deeper ways.
From instruction in the classroom to experience on the water, you will learn with your team. The importance of clear communication will come alive as you depend on each other for a successful sailing experience.
After we return to land, your team will have an opportunity to process the experience. Here, we will help you navigate some conversations that are sure to have involved at least a level of conflict.
Full Sail Leadership Academy believes that you have what it takes to make the world a better place by making your workplace better.
We want to come alongside you with tools, experience, and coaching that can take your leadership to the next level.
I am just a phone call away, eager to help you set sail for a brighter future.
Don’t delay. Take the first step. This is your moment.