Conflict is a topic that often comes up with I talk with leaders. In three separate cases lately I have heard of organizations including conflict resolution in supervisor training programs.
A perennially popular topic for training at all levels of leadership development training, conflict is as often misunderstood and mishandled as it is discussed. Consider this view on the topic from Tony Dungy’s new book Uncommon (you can read my review of the book here).
“Conflict is best seen as an opportunity to understand our differences, since that’s when conflict usually arises; when we see something differently.”
This is a healthy view of conflict and casts it not as something to be avoided or immediately “resolved” but something to be understood.
As leaders of others there will always be things that people see differently (in fact if you never experience in differences in perspective people aren’t likely sharing their true feelings – which, as a leader, is cause for much greater concern!)
It is our role as a leader to understand those differences ourselves (what a great opportunity to learn), and to help others communicate in a way that others will see and learn from those differences as well.
As a leader of a team, learning to help others welcome and invite conflict as a mode of learning and making better decisions and not allowing it to become damaging or attacking is an important skill.
Make sure that you are viewing conflict from this perspective and you will not only find conflicts easier to deal with, but you will allow conflict to be a helpful rather than damaging result of human interaction.
Consider answering the questions below, adapted from our Powerquotes Plus weekly email service, as one of your leadership activities for the week.
Questions to Ponder
How do I view conflict?
What current situation did I think of when I read this quotation?
What can I do to use conflict as an opportunity for learning this week?