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Every organization is challenged by cultural entropy. Competition, globalization, technology, regulation, macroeconomic ambiguity, internal politics, leadership, and employee transitions

necessitate that each organization actively scan the environment and tend to the entropy occurring within the organization.

Entropy is “a thermodynamic quantity representing the unavailability of a system’s thermal energy for conversion into mechanical work, often interpreted as the degree of disorder or randomness in the system. The second law of thermodynamics finds that entropy always increases with time”.
In the workplace, culture entropy is determined by whether energy expended is transferred through systems, processes, and people in support of a productive and functional system.

Each one of your leaders is expending conflict energy. In our leadership model, leaders have four options: Constructive Conflict, Destructive Conflict, Avoiding Conflict, and Conflict Avoidance.

In the model, here’s how I describe similar sounding phrases of “Avoiding Conflict” and “Conflict Avoidance.”

Avoiding Conflict:

Leadership Style: This approach is characterized by low assertiveness and low helpfulness.

Behavioral Traits: Leaders practicing Avoiding Conflict tend to stay neutral, avoiding taking a stand or making decisions on contentious issues.

Communication Style: Hesitant to express their opinions openly, contributing to ambiguity in decision making processes.

Impact on Culture: This leads to a lack of direction and indecisiveness within the team, fostering an environment where conflicts go unresolved.

Conflict Avoidance:

Leadership Style: Conflict Avoidance is marked by high helpfulness but low assertiveness.

Behavioral Traits: Leaders employing Conflict Avoidance prioritize maintaining harmony and being supportive, sometimes at the expense of addressing challenging issues directly.

Communication Style: Excel in creating a positive and collaborative atmosphere and shy away from confronting conflicts head-on.

Impact on Culture: While fostering a harmonious environment, the downside is a reluctance to address underlying issues, potentially allowing problems to persist.

Moreover, Conflict Avoidance has a distinct attribute. It inhibits growth and responsibility of team members. A leader who “saves the day” disables the person who craves learning and developing new skills. How many times have you heard or reflected: it is easier for me to do this?

In essence, while both terms involve avoiding conflict to some extent, Avoiding Conflict leans towards a more passive stance with low assertiveness and helpfulness, whereas Conflict Avoidance involves a more supportive approach but still lacks assertiveness in addressing conflicts directly. Balancing these aspects is crucial for leaders aiming to navigate conflicts effectively and contribute to a positive organizational culture.

To establish a productive transfer of energy an organization must pick a conflict model. A model that transfers leadership energy consistently over time, circumstance and by every leader. If the organization doesn’t have a conflict strategy, your organization will enjoy increasing randomness in decision making and execution.

Effective leadership lies in embracing conflict as a catalyst for positive change, ensuring that it remains within the realm of constructive engagement. By adopting these leadership practice concepts, leaders can steer their teams through conflicts, fostering an environment where progress and efficiency thrive.

Contact KBD Consulting to learn more about our Leadership Development Program: Adaptive Leadership: Concepts to Real World Practice.

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