• Tony Richards

Conflict: The Good, The Bad & The Ugly

There is no such thing as a conflict-free zone.

Some people might say the only way to completely eliminate conflict would to be completely alone, doing nothing and not interacting with another person. The truth is, you would still have conflict in your mind. There is no such thing as a conflict-free zone. A lack of conflict does not mean progress, but it might mean you are not doing much.

Conflict is neither good nor bad, it just is a reality. Conflict does serve a purpose.

It causes us to explore the issues around the conflict searching for answers to it. When conflict arises, it causes us to look into our decisions more in depth to make sure we’ve had all the information, considered all the information and are not overlooking any details. Who wants to end up on the wrong side of something we haven’t fully explored for the best of all concerned. If conflict is to be used in a positive way, it must involve dialogue from the involved parties before the decision is made.

The process of making the decision is more important regarding conflict than the actual decision is. Everyone wants to be heard. People with opposing views will respond more positively if they feel they were heard and understood prior to the decision.

On the other hand, conflict can fence a leader in if it arises too often. If a leader faces conflict over every single decision they try to make, after a while they may begin to believe it’s easier not to make decisions than to deal with all the conflict that arises. They will walk away from issues that need to be addressed because of fear of the conflict. In these situations, the conflict arising from the team may become a self-imposed lid on the growth of the organization by the leader.

Conflict can also effect team members, because it’s difficult to focus on the task at hand when you are distracted and conflict in one area can leak over into others. If we have conflict at home. we can bring that to work and vice-versa.

Leadership is tough. No one is going to send you a thank you card after you discipline or correct them in the effort to resolve a conflict. They will probably not immediately say “I was wrong, thank you…you care enough about me to flag me down”.  They don’t always appreciate the actions. There will always be some intense feelings especially if the situation is intense, but as leader, your job is to try to minimize it. If the feelings and emotions continue to fester and grow, the situation will get out of control and rule your organization, and it’s never good when that happens. A leader has to step in and change the course.

Because we all want to be accepted and approved, we might be relunctant to take these kinds of actions, but sometimes in an effort to be liked and approved, we avoid taking the actions necessary. Some people will like you. Some people will not like you. Following a leadership action in which you take control of an emotional situation, some will understand and immediately modify their behavior and everything will be fine, others will hate you and avoid you like the plague. Regardless of the behavior, you must not be afraid to do the right thing and let the fear of conflict rule you and the organization.

  1. The best you can do is keep yourself focused, know where you are trying to go and why you are going there.

  2. Care enough to try to keep the communications lines open prior to making a decision so everyone involved feels they were a part of it. Moreso on big decisions, not every single decision you make, as leaders make many decisions daily, but the ones that effect the other person or team needs some of their involvement so people feel they have been heard.

  3. Don’t get fearful over conflict and avoid doing the right thing for the organization.

  4. Don’t feel rejected and alone if people don’t like your discipline or correction when your intentions are right

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