Conflict-Do you want it on your leadership team?

by Rebecca on July 12, 2015

conflict needs to be healthyI hate conflict as much as anyone else, it’s exhausting and a distraction. But in The Advantage, Lencioni addresses why healthy conflict on your leadership team is actually beneficial for your business.

I don’t know about you, but if I ever hear a couple say they never have an argument then I immediately think, “Uh oh, their relationship is in trouble.” The same is true in your hospital. If you do not allow your team to experience conflict, you are in trouble. It is normal to have conflict on a team, but it needs to be healthy and constructive.

The exception to this rule is when there is no trust within the leadership team.  There must be trust before conflict because without trust, the conflict will turn ugly pretty quickly. Instead of conflict being focused on issues and constructive resolution, it can become personal, and this is unhealthy conflict.

We must realize and accept that conflict can be uncomfortable. Not only is this okay, but it’s a necessary part of the process. You cannot run from this discomfort and expect your conflict to be healthy. “Overcoming the tendency to run from discomfort is one of the most important requirements for any leadership team-in fact for any leader.”

Conflict avoidance is a pitfall that affects so many businesses.  When a leadership team embraces the habit of avoiding conflict it then filters down into the rest of the hospital as well.   “When people fail to be honest with one another about an issue they disagree on, their disagreement around that issue festers and ferments over time until it transforms into frustration around that person.”  Take a minute and let that quote sink in.

We must all remember that sometimes conflict might start crossing a line. We need to accept this and learn to manage it in a healthy manner. This, however, should be the exception not the rule.

In The Advantage, Lencioni discusses tools you can use to help bring some healthy conflict to your discussions, but remember, without first establishing trust, your leadership team will never be able to have healthy conflict.

Do you have healthy conflict within your leadership team?  Do you agree that some conflict can actually strengthen your team?

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{ 2 comments… read them below or add one }

Robyn July 13, 2015 at 3:23 pm

First of all, in my fledgling new relationship of over 7 months, we have never had an argument. We have navigated a few misunderstandings however, so there has been some well-navigated mild conflct. 😉

In the workplace, mild conflict with colleagues has encouraged some healthy debate in the past. This is always good, because we all need to challenge our assumptions sometimes. I guess conflict over ideas then can be seen as potentially beneficial. Is personal conflict ever good, though? (Obviously I have not read the book!).



rebecca July 13, 2015 at 7:40 pm

I think his point is it is better to bring up issues with a healthy respect for each other (i.e. you trust each other) than how many businesses do it when “real” issues never get discussed or dealt with- you are either managing around things or everyone knows what they real issues are but they never get resolved. Conflict of any sort really only works when you have TRUST in place first!

Hope that makes sense and thanks for commenting!


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