Friday, May 11, 2012

Conflict Creates Collaboration

"A good manager doesn't try to eliminate conflict; he tries to keep it from wasting the energies of his people. If you're the boss and your people fight you openly when they think that you are wrong - that's healthy." - Robert M. Townsend, Professor of Economics in the Department of Economics at MIT (b. 1948)
Being a leader does not mean having one or many "blind followers", and yet, in many organizations, people are expected, or simply do "Follow the Leader". When leaders discourage, ignore, or worse yet, clearly berate with those who have conflicting ideas or questions, they are not "winning", they are simply creating a culture of insincere, apathetic acceptance. And, is it really acceptance...or just compliance? I have yet to meet a leader who is thriving who is seeking compliant team members. Remember, having conflict does not mean disrespect, or argument, rather allowing and inviting conflicting ideas and perspectives is the way to consider all sides, know where people stand, and make an informed decision. Once conflict has yielded healthy conversation, there needs to be a direction, and not a dissension. This "agree to disagree" concept seems professional, but it is really at best, compromise, which is not a win-win, or at worst, just moving on instead of moving forward. Not everyone will get his or her way, but with conflict in conversations, and a decision that comes as a result of full discussion, people can get behind each other, get on-board about the ideas that were decided, and therefore, support the direction of the leadership...which will be at that point, their own based on the collaborative approach!

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