November 26, 2019 10:00 am Published by

More of What You Don’t Want #202

Conflict. It’s something most people seek to avoid. However, the best teams seek it; like heat-seeking missiles, they encourage it. They listen acutely; they watch body language; they ask questions to provoke it and they don’t settle until people say what they’re not comfortable saying.

What the best teams learn is that healthy conflict—the kind where you attack ideas and issues, opportunities and problems—is entirely worthwhile and the source of what inspires heartfelt commitment and complete accountability. Healthy conflict is never about attacking people, it’s about getting to the source of problems.

While working with one of my leadership teams, I described healthy conflict this way. They described themselves as conflict avoiders and actively protested the idea of any sort of conflict being healthy, only difficult, uncomfortable and painful. When I shared that the best teams know better and realize conflict is healthy—especially when it’s in pursuit of the “truth” or the best possible answer. The best teams know it takes friction to refine an idea or release our outdated behaviors and processes in the same way it takes pressure to turn coal into a diamond. This definition was a game-changer for them.

Do as you will, and know this: if you avoid or ignore conflict, you will only get you more of what you don’t want.

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