I have discovered that one of the symptoms of highly ineffective leaders is avoiding conflict. One organization with whom I work reorganized a department instead of dealing with a conflict between a leader and some of his staff. In addition to the cost and disruption associated with a reorganization, the conflict hasn’t gone away – the leader in question has not changed his behavior. The conflict has been avoided in the short term only.
Conflict should not be considered negative. It can be harnessed to ensure excellent solutions and unearth possible problems. Dealing with conflict is not easy, but excellent leaders manage conflicts when they arise.
An article I found recently outlines the “5 Rules for Productive Conflict”. They are:
1. Appoint a devil’s advocate. Someone whose excellence is demonstrated by the quality of questions they ask.
2. Find allies. If you have concerns, try asking others privately, “Are you okay with this? Does anything about this bother you? Is there another way to frame this question?”
3. Listen for what is NOT being said.
4. Imagine you cannot do what you all want to do. In other words, think about what you would do if you could fire someone, if you could change the timetable, or if you were allowed to cancel the deal.
5. After a decision is made, declare a cooling off period. Ask everyone to go home and think about the decision on their own as well as discuss it with their family.
If you would like to read the full article click here: http://blog.ted.com/2012/08/06/5-rules-for-productive-conflict/