Positive Conflict

Provost Blog


Positive Conflict

January 3, 2013

If you are a leader, you know what it is like to discover that there can be conflict, even in great organizations.  Conflict represents discord, differing viewpoints, and frequently brings out the worst in people in how they act and interact with one another.  Conflict does impact organizations in negative ways and can put a cloud of oppression over the environment.

But leaders can demonstrate through their actions that there can be positive outcomes to conflict if handled with care and deliberateness. A good leader can address conflict and differences between people with strength and resolve to bring reconciliation and healing. An effective leader recognizes resolving conflict can lead to improved communication and a strengthening of relationships.

Top leaders do not shy away from conflict but are deliberate to engage problems because they know there can be a positive outcome from experiencing conflict.

There are three ways to view conflict as positive:

  • Addressing conflict leads to personal growth.
  • Addressing conflict deepens relationships.
  • Addressing conflict enhances communication, provides clarity, and instills truth.

Being willing to engage others in hard discussions does deepen your ability to be open, to be authentic, to be respectful, and to be sensitive.  Working through crucial conversations does develop wisdom for appreciating and resolving differences between people.

Working through conflict does force a leader to enhance her communication skills by seeking clarity and truth. This overwhelming drive to form clear and truthful communication patterns needed to resolve conflict does lead to positive outcomes for the leader and those involved.

Getting through something hard does produce personal satisfaction and it does deepen and strengthen relationships. Good leadership seeks to engage conflict knowing that it can lead to positive outcomes if handled with integrity and deliberateness.