Stop The Drama, But Not The Conflict
Many leaders confuse conflict with drama. It’s not surprising since conflict is often expressed through drama. It’s also not surprising that many leaders would try to eliminate conflict in order to stop the drama. For example, Basecamp’s controversial internal memo to employees seeks to shut down conflict to avoid the drama.
In our conflict awareness survey, 72% of survey responders said they compromise to avoid conflict.
When the conflict is gone, so are many of the foundational characteristics of strong, healthy work cultures.
Conflict is not inherently bad. It is simply the gap between what we want and what we are experiencing at any point in time. How a leader deals with the energy in the gap determines whether conflict results in drama, or something different and better.
Leaders who turn conflict into drama;
- Avoid difficult conversations
- Capitulate when pushed
- Shut down when they don’t feel heard
- Use passive-aggressive tactics to get what they want
- Blame others for how they feel
- Manipulate to achieve ulterior motives
- Use threats to get compliance
- Double-down on failing strategies
Conflict has crazy positive potential when used correctly. Leaders can harness the energy of conflict to drive innovation, connection, and performance.
Stewardship of conflict energy requires compassionate accountability, a commitment to struggling with people through conflict rather than struggling against them to feel justified.
Leaders who turn conflict into positive results
- Empathize to build emotional connection
- Validate feelings without condoning behavior
- Share their own emotional experiences
- Ask curious questions to learn about others’ perspectives
- Look for synergy
- Point out strengths
- Adjust to new information
- Clarify their boundaries without attack or blame
- Ask for new behaviors without threats
- Own up to their own mistakes
Stewardship of conflict energy is one of the most critical leadership competencies. It makes the difference between toxic cultures of drama, and productive cultures of connection, innovation and performance.
Start training your leaders to be good stewards of conflict energy. Sign up for our introductory course, Conflict and You: The Basics of Compassionate Accountability®. Read more about resources for interpersonal conflict.
Copyright Next Element Consulting, LLC 2021
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