The whole business starts with ideas, and we’re convinced that ideas come out of an environment of supportive conflict, which is synonymous with appropriate friction.—Michael Eisner, former Disney CEO

Many leaders struggle with addressing conflict – are you one of them? Would you consider yourself an “avoider”?

As leaders, we need to understand the different styles of conflict and their appropriate usage, and we need to remember that conflict is simply any situation where one’s concerns or desires differ from those of another.

Having teams that engage in healthy conflict can promote growth. Team members that feel they are in a “safe” environment will not only build upon the ideas of others, but will be comfortable presenting opposing views and share thoughts that can inspire and promote new ways of thinking.

Avoiding addressing conflict has its appropriate time and place, but most often, leaders that are “avoiders” are labeled as weak, unassertive and uncooperative.  That’s not always the case!

When avoiding is appropriate:

  • When there’s a need to obtain additional details / facts
  • When emotions are high and those involved need to cool down in order to think rationally
  • When the conflict is being addressed in a healthy manner and an “intervention” is not required by you!
  • When the timing is “not right” (ex. location, attendees, sensitive nature)

Conflict in the workplace is unavoidable; what’s key is to prevent the conflict from escalating into an unhealthy situation. Productivity, communication, collaboration, inspiration, morale, and growth will all suffer if not properly managed.

Your response to managing and addressing conflict is entirely up to you. Understand the styles of conflict and when to effectively use them, and empower yourself and others to manage conflict in a healthy, honoring, respectful way.

And yes, being an “avoider” has a time and place!


Click to read more about CONFLICT MODES