In order for teams to be effective, they need to have conflict. Not destructive conflict. Not where people shout or are passive aggressive or where pent up frustrations culminate in some sort of rupture. Teams need healthy conflict—the kind that allows for disagreements, different viewpoints, and a path forward that deepens relationships on a team.
In order to foster this kind of conflict, you need to plan for it.
Here are 4 steps you can incorporate into your plan to cultivate healthy conflict:
- Start with your experiences of conflict. How would you define it? What were your earliest memories of conflict? What examples did you have of conflict growing up?
- Engage in storytelling. Share about your experiences of conflict to develop greater empathy for your teammates
- Create a shared vision for what conflict might look and sound like for your team. In The Art of Coaching Teams, I write about the indicators of healthy conflict. Those can be a helpful starting point, but you’ll want to engage your team to generate indicators that are true for your group.
- Practice having conflict. Choose some low-stakes scenarios to practice to test your shared vision. Reflect on how the conflict felt for teammates.
This series of steps is not a panacea. Unhealthy or toxic cultures breed the more destructive kinds of conflict. But if your team has created the structures to be a functioning team, and if your team is committed to creating a just, resilient community focused on systems transformation, then healthy conflict might be exactly what you need.
If you want to build your capacity to cultivate healthy conflict within your team, join us in the Art of Coaching Teams Masterclass. This is one of several essential leadership skills you need to lead a thriving team.