Applying Four Lessons in Constructive Conflict

Are you tired of fighting fires in your organization?

Maybe you are putting out too many fires because you are not starting them. That’s right – maybe you need to fight fire with fire. Have you considered how many fires in your church are the result of:

  • False urgency being created by people’s agendas
  • An atmosphere of distraction
  • Lack of prioritization and preparation
  • Unresolved conflict that is swept under the carpet
  • Indecisiveness that propagates lingering questions
  • Bottlenecked decision-making with little empowerment

Ron Ashkenas and Lisa Bodell, writing in, think that leaders need to embrace conflict – in other words, sometimes they need to start a fire:

Overcoming the natural and often unconscious tendency to damp down conflict is tough to do – but if you’re willing to try, these four best practices can help:

Quote The Godfather. Doing this will reinforce the notion that we can disagree about ideas and strategies, but still respect and like each other — something that is often forgotten in the heat of battle.

Create challenge events. Rather than leave it to chance, schedule time with your team to question norms and change the way things are done.

Recognize employees who question the status quo. If someone pushes back or raises an uncomfortable question in a meeting, back them up rather than shut them down.

Set ground rules for conflict. Since everyone struggles with conflict to some degree, develop a few standards for how your team can manage it constructively.

In the short-term, it’s almost always easier to avoid conflict and come across as being a “nice” manager. But more often than not, being a little less nice might be the best thing for your people, your organization, and you.

Just maybe, the fires we are constantly chasing need to be replaced by a fiery, white-hot vision planted deeply in the minds and heart of our leaders and people.

Imagine if starting the right fire in each individual:

  • Aligned people’s attention
  • Increase everyone’s passion
  • Created more capacity for fewer initiatives
  • Catalyzed better communication and collaboration
  • Clarified values for better decisiveness
  • Gave people more problem solving authority

Realistically, great leadership will always have fires to put out.  That work is never completely done. But don’t be seen as a fireFIGHTer, in part, because you’re not a fireSTARTer. By doing that, you let other people start fires and you tend to keep your firefighting gear on.

Your system needs more vision – it needs the right fires planted in more people. 

Read more from Will here.

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Will Mancini

Will Mancini

Will Mancini wants you and your ministry to experience the benefits of stunning, God-given clarity. As a pastor turned vision coach, Will has worked with an unprecedented variety of churches from growing megachurches and missional communities, to mainline revitalization and church plants. He is the founder of Auxano, creator of and the author of God Dreams and Church Unique.

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Recent Comments
comment_post_ID); ?> I like it Mac and do agree with your opinions on the matter. Thanks much
— winston
comment_post_ID); ?> In this era, we have the opportunity of professional church staff today who utilize their gifting to shape the image and atmosphere of the church organization. But the 100% real impact on the church visitors is genuine evidence of changed lives by the gospel and the active growing discipleship (just as it was in the first century church). One demonstration is financially rich believers ministering equally together with poor believers (how odd, and incredibly miraculous; all humble and bow at the foot of the cross.). It is the awesome contrast of church members vocations, race, gender, age, maturity, gifting, humility that demonstrates to visitors "there is a Spirit in the place". That first-time guest list of 10 are "physical excuses", not spiritual excuses. Those don't tell the story. The condition of facilities and publicly greeting people have zero to do with it. The power of God in and through believers lives dedicated to impact other people with their relationship bridge-building of acceptance of the lost around them. Empowered believers are infectious, loving, helpful, giving, self-less, dynamic, compelling, bold, Christ-filled. As I have been in many church settings domestically and internationally, the facilities can be poor, and yet the fellowship can still be rich. We need to operate with first church humility. People come to Christ on His terms, not on our human abilities of hospitality. A huge catastrophe in a community, disaster relief brings lots of people into churches – many come to the church in those terrible conditions no matter the physical condition of the local church. Off the condition of facility, and onto the condition of God's people (living stones).... and everything else will grow.... and the other physical issues will be corrected by the staff.
— Russ Wright
comment_post_ID); ?> "While I understand the intent behind this phrase" Expound please. What do you understand to be the intent behind that phrase?
— Ken

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