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In the realm of leadership, navigating conflict is a skill that can turn challenges into unparalleled opportunities.

We pose these essential questions: Do your company values foster an environment for constructive conflict resolution? Do your leaders possess the tools to engage in constructive conflicts to propel the team forward?

This exploration is rooted in the understanding that conflict, far from being a hindrance, serves as a catalyst for change and growth.

Without conflict there is no change. Conflict is all around us – every moment – from external sources or created because of internal challenges. Your platform to engage in constructive conflict begins with each employee’s perspective about their leader and your company’s values.

Every employee needs to feel and know that their leader has their best interests in mind and as is pushing for their success. If employees don’t have this sensibility, having constructive conflict is not possible.

Leadership practice skills:

1. Start with intention: has the leader built a habit of sharing their intention at the beginning of every critical interaction?

Practice Insight: With every communication interaction does the leader share their intention before engaging in dialogue? If you don’t share your intention, people will make it up, and what they make up is not always positive.

Here are a few examples:

Performance Feedback Conversation: “My intention is to provide you with constructive feedback on your recent project and work together to identify areas for improvement and growth.”

Conflict Resolution Discussion: “My intention is to address the recent conflict between team members and find a solution that benefits both parties while preserving a positive team dynamic.”

Change Management Communication: “Today, I’d like to discuss the upcoming changes in our department’s structure. My intention is to provide you with the necessary context, answer your questions, and ensure that you feel informed and supported during this transition.”

2. Integrate the company’s values into all your conversations, agenda items, and communications.

Practice Insight: Each agenda item, should be tagged with a company value:

Agenda item: Values

Retain Current Customers Customer Centricity, Teamwork and Excellence

3. Active Listening

Encourage leaders to actively listen to employees’ perspectives without interruption.

Practice Insight: Apply the WAIT communication tool: Why am I talking?

4. Solution Oriented Mindset:

Instill a culture where leaders view conflicts as opportunities for growth and improvement. Encourage leaders to approach conflicts with a problem-solving mindset, focusing on finding solutions rather than placing blame.

Practice Insight: Add the word “interesting” to your vocabulary. “This challenge is interesting, what do you think are the variables that created this challenge?

5. Feedback Loops:

Establish regular feedback mechanisms, creating a continuous dialogue between leaders and employees. Ensure that feedback is specific, actionable, and tied to both individual and organizational goals.

Practice Insight: Routinely ask these questions: Who helped you be productive in the last week? What systems and processes need improving? What improvement ideas can you share? What tools do you need to complete your role successfully? What can I do to support you?

6. Conflict Resolution Training:

Provide leaders with training on effective conflict resolution techniques. Equip them with the skills to navigate challenging conversations to improve company, team, and individual performance.

Practice Insight: Identify when conflict was constructively embraced, share, and celebrate these examples.

7. Seek Divergent Perspectives:

Emphasize the value of divergent perspectives and encourage leaders to appreciate different viewpoints.

Practice Insight: A divergent perspective requires individuals to step outside of their perspective, challenge the status quo, highlight distinct qualities of the various elements of the problem and/or proposed solutions.

8. Make the challenge bigger:

Practice Insight: If the focus is on a small distinct problem, create a bigger problem, allowing for a wider range of solutions.

Example: Change: “Our time to fill our jobs, is due to HR’s lack of efficiency.” To: “Our time to fill our roles is a combination of HR efficiency, Manager completing interviews, our company’s orientation schedule and our candidates’ personal schedules.”

Fostering a culture of constructive conflict within an organization is deeply rooted in its values and the leadership practices that accompany them. The foundation lies not only in having a list of values but in ensuring that every team member feels their leader is genuinely invested in their success.

Leadership skills play a pivotal role in cultivating such an environment, and intentional practices, as outlined above, serve as guideposts for leaders to navigate conflict positively. By starting with clear intentions, integrating company values into every interaction, actively listening, maintaining a solution-oriented mindset, establishing feedback loops, providing conflict resolution training, seeking divergent perspectives, and making challenges more expansive, leaders can create a workplace that not only embraces conflict but leverages it for growth and innovation.

Remember, in the absence of constructive conflict, you will lose control of the change you seek. By creating a culture of constructive conflict, organizations can pave the way for continuous improvement and success.

Adaptive Leadership: Concepts to Real World Practice Leadership development program incorporates a robust conversation and application of how leaders can build their constructive conflict skills. Contact me today, if you would like to learn more about building a culture of “Ordinary People, Getting the Right Stuff Done.”

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