Is conflict really a growth killer?

I heard Mark Green, author of Activators, speak recently about the ‘hidden growth killers’ that get in the way of us making clever decisions and getting on with the day. They are delay, avoidance, tolerance and indecisiveness. They make sense to me. I imagine to you as well. 

Some of the symptoms of these may be staying in our comfort zone, needing to be liked, tolerating poor work or behaviours, denying the role we are playing. The list goes on. So, what’s the common denominator for these remaining the same?

Conflict. Actually, let me be more specific. It’s combat. Or no conflict at all.

The conflict itself isn’t the problem. It’s how we go about dealing with it. We might avoid conflict, shy away, expect (or hope) for someone else to deal with the issues or people. Or we might like it a lil’ too much and tackle things with an ‘I’m right, my-way-or-the-highway, just do what I say’ kinda way.

How we do conflict matters. And how we are doing it is not getting better. Incivility is on the rise. Treating each other poorly, and allowing it to happen around us, is becoming our norm. The last study done by Georgetown Uni tells us that 62% of people still feel like they are treated poorly at least once a week.

It’s obvious when combat is coming your way right? Unfortunately, it’s less obvious for the person creating and encouraging the combat. Because they are comfortable in their ‘attack’. Yet it can leave in its wake people with a fear of speaking up, people who feel like they don’t matter, and it encourages a command-and-control workplace. I should know. I am a recovering fighter.

What’s not as obvious is the wake that is created when we stay quiet. And say nothing at all. Nothing changes. At least, nothing changes for the better. I don’t mean you have to say something in the moment. After all, you are in flight or freeze. What I do mean is we have to find a way to let the person creating the combat know that their ‘force’ is not helping people be at their best. 

Our General Manager, Angie, had the courage to call me out on how harsh I was being with our team before I went on holiday. Ouch, but fair! She stayed quiet in the moment (because she was in freeze). That’s understandable. We can all do it. We all have a role to play in helping each other be better. She said she wants us to be known as ‘the best leaders that our people have ever worked for’. What a cool call to arms. I can’t do that when I am avoiding or attacking. Neither can you.

It’s the unhealthy conflict, which is combat or avoidance, that are the growth killers. Let’s be better than that. I’m trying. What about you?

If you lead teams, or businesses, and want to know what it looks like to create sustainable healthy conflict, then come to my free online event October 17th. Register here.