Learn how to fight so that everybody wins
I know I asked you this before and I want you to think about your response again… why do some leaders succeed where other leaders fail? Successful leaders understand that building healthy partnerships is critical to achieving sustainable results. However, sustained healthy partnerships are not conflict free … they are based on conflict resolution efforts.
One of the challenges in our leadership mindset is that we have an instinctive tendency to fight for personal victories instead of fighting for optimal solutions. The result is generally … someone wins … someone loses and the relationship suffers.
Here are a few of my personal insights for fighting so that healthy relationships and trusted partnerships emerge:
- Differences are inevitable, normal and potentially beneficial.
- Differences are inevitable because partnerships and relationships bring together varying talent, skillsets and personalities in order to achieve a common goal.
- Differences are normal because all partnerships and relationships (including great ones) … experience them.
- Differences are potentially beneficial because when handled effectively they can produce growth, increased effectiveness and impeccable results.
In terms of resolving conflict, there are three styles that are very common in our leadership practice:
- The avoid style. You can easily recognize this style … “don’t want to rock the boat” … “let sleeping dogs lie.” This behavior is very common in leaders who fear confrontation, so they tend to bury their feelings, not realizing that they themselves are buried alive and will explode sometime in the future. These leaders go from clam-up … to build-up … to blow-up … thereby risking everything in their partnerships and relationships. When we avoid facing challenging and uncomfortable situations, offenses accumulate, unaddressed issues multiply and unfinished business erodes the relationship between us and those involved.
- The attack style. These are the “get them before they get you” leaders … ruthless fighters who refuse to give in and, it is not uncommon to see them inflict terminal wounds on each other. Unfortunately, with this practice … attack begets counterattack and both sides generally “dig in” and nothing gets resolved and relationships within and across teams deteriorate.
- The approach-assert style. For these leaders, no price is too high if it means cultivating great partnerships and relationships. These leaders while being sensitive to the feelings of others still insist on dealing directly with important issues … they avoid blaming … they confront the issues, not the individual and … they invite others to partner with them in solving common problems thus preserving the relationship.
So … Which conflict resolution style do you rely on the most? Do you honor differences? How healthy are your partnerships and relationships? Are you leading in a way so that everyone wins?
To your continued success!