Monday, May 18, 2015

Encourage Constructive Conflict

This is the second of a five part series on high performance teamwork, based on the book, The Five Dysfunctions of a Team by Patrick Lencioni.  The five major dysfunctions that Lencioni has identified, which is backed up by the research are:

*Absence of Trust
*Fear of Conflict
*Lack of Commitment
*Avoidance of Accountability
*Inattention to Results

Fear of Conflict cannot be overcome without trust – so check out the prior blog here if you missed that.

Once you have a team that trusts one another, then leaders need to role model what constructive conflict looks like.  All too often, people are conflict avoidant.  Conflict does not have to be nasty and, in fact, constructive conflict makes a team stronger. 

When a team member makes a suggestion, many people will hesitate to say something even if they think it is a bad idea.  But high performing teams know that they will only make the optimal choices if they get many ideas on the table and evaluate all of them.  So, as a leader who wants to role model constructive conflict you can say things like:

“Thanks for your idea, Rob.  What do the rest of you think?  Let’s brainstorm at least five different possibilities before we make any decisions.”

Another simple technique is to break your team into two or three sub-groups and have them brainstorm ideas to bring back to the full team.  I often do this in strategic planning sessions to encourage divergent thinking.  You can also take care to carefully assign people to subgroups who may have differing opinions.

If you are going to role model constructive conflict it is vital that you react appropriately when someone suggests an alternative to your latest brilliant idea.  If you can do that and encourage others to do the same, then you are on your way to becoming a high performing team that makes an exceptional Mission Impact.


For more ideas on how you can lead breakthroughs in your organization, follow this blog and check out my web site at www.SheehanNonprofitConsulting.com   You will find free resources you can download, including a Breakthrough Strategy Workbook that you can download at no cost.  You can also check out my book, Mission Impact:  Breakthrough Strategies for Nonprofits, and buy it if you are interested.  And you can follow Sheehan Nonprofit Consulting on Facebook.

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