Posts Tagged ‘how to handle conflict and dissent’

Day 70 How to Lead by THE BOOK: How to Handle Conflict & Dissent!

Thursday, September 16th, 2010

I’m in Chicago today finishing my Up Your Business Super Leadership Workshop and will fly home to L.A. this evening. One of the topics I’ll cover in this morning’s session is how to handle conflicts and dissent as they arise from followers. A leader’s response to these realities has the potential to quickly elevate or devastate his own credibility and team morale. Deftly handling these matters is crucial and I will cover it in, How to Lead by THE BOOK.

In Acts 6:1-7, a conflict arose amongst the disciples of the newly formed church concerning unequal distribution of food to certain widows. The wisdom the Twelve demonstrated in resolving this conflict offers steps for us to emulate today.

1. Don’t blame. Focus on solutions and not the problem. Don’t shoot the messenger!

2. Allow those who complain to participate in the solution. In this manner they own it and will support it.

3. Remember that conflict brings about clarity and can help you move forward toward the bigger picture when handled properly.

Too often in leadership we treat those who complain or suggest a better way of doing things like they are trouble makers! Sometimes, we even regard dissent as mutiny even though it offers the opportunity to strengthen our organization and remedy its blind spots. I have found in my own leadership career that the worse decisions I’ve ever made were decisions made void of conflict. In other words, everyone was nodding their heads in affirmation, rather than speaking up and asking questions or offering recommendations that would have improved my plan. Through this I’ve learned that too much harmony is cancerous to decision-making. It’s wise to encourage additional points of view by allowing others to “shoot some holes” in what you’re presenting to them. In fact, you should do more than “tolerate” such behavior, you must encourage it!

Naturally, there are some non-negotiable areas of your organization that are not up for debate. These normally relate to issues of values and performance expectations. However, whenever possible it’s wise to engage others in solutions because people support what they help create, and they are more likely to buy-in after they have weighed in.