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  • Writer's pictureMike Bensi

Steps to Address Conflict

Early in my management career, I had an issue with conflict. I liked creating harmony within my team, and conflict felt like a disruptive force that got in the way of that goal. So I did what any eager leader would do - I sidestepped confrontations whenever possible.

As I gained more experience (ie, realized it was hurting my team), I began to recognize that conflict was not only unavoidable but also an essential aspect of leadership and working within a team. And I realized that my discomfort with conflict was a common sentiment shared by many leaders. It wasn't a sign of weakness but rather a natural response to the uncertainty that conflict entailed.

By learning to navigate the challenges that come with conflict, leaders have the opportunity to transform an issue from a source of tension into a catalyst for growth and collaboration for themselves and their teams. Useful steps to help you through the uncomfortableness includes:

Reflect. Before diving into the fray, take a moment to introspect. Consider your own biases, assumptions, and emotional state. Awareness here sets the stage for constructive dialogue.

Build a problem statement. Define the issue clearly. Identify the needs and goals of each person involved. This lays the groundwork for a shared understanding and paves the way for progress.

Brainstorm ideas. Encourage open discussion and collaboration. Together, explore various perspectives and potential solutions. Creativity flourishes when all voices are heard.

Agree on a solution. Strive for consensus. Negotiate and compromise to find a resolution that satisfies everyone as much as possible. Unity in decision-making fosters commitment to implementation.

Follow up. Resolution is not the end; it's a checkpoint. Ensure the agreed-upon solution is implemented effectively. Address any lingering concerns promptly. Accountability fuels growth and trust.

By following these steps, leaders can transform conflict from a source of tension to an opportunity for growth and collaboration. Learning to embrace conflict as an opportunity for learning and improvement rather than a threat to be avoided can allow leaders to develop the courage to lean into uncomfortable conversations, resolve issues, and strengthen relationships within the team.

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