Leaders Enable Healthy Conflict

When you hear “conflict,” do you

a) think of healthy and open conversations around ideas, issues, and concepts?


b) recall disputes between and about people?

Do you have

a) interesting meetings where big tactical and strategic issues get disagreed about, but resolved?


b) meetings loaded with artificial harmony, followed by “meetings after the meeting”?

If you tend to answer “B” rather than “A,” consider encouraging healthy conflict among your team.

In The Five Dysfunctions of a Team by Patrick Lencioni, the need for vulnerability-based trust is considered foundational for any team to be successful. When this trust is developed, we can have healthy conflict.

Build trust. Then, ask for openness, frankness, and kindness as you explore issues.

Consider a variation on this activity: Norming Exercise

Regardless of your specific direction, communicate about conflict, set standards, and ask for input.

Commitment to goals is far greater once we have explored all the issues.

Thanks for reading,

Alan Feirer

Ashleigh’s Input – Because of our foundation of trust, when conflict arises, Alan and I are able to discuss ideas for resolving it openly and frankly while still being kind to one another. The conflict gets resolved and we both feel that our ideas were heard.

2 Responses

  1. Tom Henricksen
    | Reply

    Too many times we think conflict is a bad thing and we need to understand the positive aspects of conflict. Teams that have built the trust factor can definitely benefit from conflict. Thanks for sharing Alan!

    • Alan Feirer
      | Reply

      Right on, Tom – feel free to weigh in on how an AGILE team would make that happen; you’re the pro there!

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