This week we've been highlighting the benefits of conflict and the upside to encouraging conflict within your leadership team. The reality is, conflict is too often associated with being negative, and part of the reason for that is that too often conflict happens when people are already upset. And upset people have a tendency to scream.
Being a native Midwesterner I am well versed in the art of passive-agression. People around here don't push more buttons than they have to, if they push them at all, and generally someone has to get pretty upset before they'll intentionally enter a disagreement. The sad part is, if conflict were handled in appropriate and timely ways, fewer people would be hurt and conflict would have a much better reputation!
So how can we have conflict without all the screaming and passion? How can we avoid people being hurt and being hurtful and cash in on the benefits of healthy disagreement?
First, encourage people to speak up. One of the worst things that can happen to a leadership team is for people to harbor unspoken, negative feelings. If people feel that they're expected to "play nice" in meetings, they'll hold in their points of disagreement and stew over them rather than voicing them in healthy ways. Whenever you can, encourage people to voice their opinions and disagreements. Conflict at the outset will be much healthier than arguments down the road.
Second, be the first to ask follow up questions. On Wednesday's podcast we said that conflict is all about truth-finding. By asking questions about ideas that are shared in meetings, you'll reveal more details and open up additional areas where that idea can be refined through discussion, and even disagreement. Recently, we decided as a church to expand our college ministry. As more and more questions are being raised about the structure of that ministry, there is more room for conflict between ideas that will ultimately lead to a better picture of what our ministry can and should look like. Always be ready to ask the next question and explore an idea more deeply.
Finally, remind people what the ultimate goal is - remind them of the mission. People can be very attached to their ideas. I know I can be! But as church leaders, our goal is not to have our idea win the day, but to have the best ministry possible to our community. If that happens to be a version of my idea, that's great. If my idea is horrible, I should be happy to find that out before it gets rolled out. If conflict can be focused around the mission of the church, the positive side of it can shine. Remind your teams that their ideas are valuable and important, but not more important than the mission. A good leader will welcome conflict if it refines the ministry.
We hope that you've been encouraged this week through 200churches.com. We are working in our own ministry toward utilizing conflict for healthy results and we hope you can do the same in yours.
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