What is a Conflict Transformer?
A conflict transformer is a leader who embraces and practices the philosophy of viewing conflict as an opportunity for positive change.
There are two common reactions to conflict: avoidance or aggressive.
EXAMPLE of TWO COMMON CONFLICT STYLES
You call a meeting with your team for the annual sales planning session. A key manager shows up 15 minutes late to the meeting, as is his habit.
Conflict Avoidance Reaction: “Welcome Jim. Glad you could join us. Let me recap for you what we covered in the first 15 minutes.”
Result: With this reaction, Jim isn’t aware that his behavior is negatively affecting the group. In fact, he is being rewarded for bad behavior which encourages him to continue to be late.
Conflict Aggressive Reaction: “Nice of you to grace us with your presence, Jim (with a sarcastic tone). Maybe next time you could show the team some respect and show up on time.”
Result: When is the last time you saw a person receive a sarcastic verbal lashing in a meeting and they responded, “Yes. You are right. I was a jerk. Let me change my ways.” It doesn’t work. The aggressive approach puts others on the defensive and more importantly takes focus away from the conversation that needs to take place.
While avoidance and aggressive conflict behavior styles are the most common, they are not the most effective. When a leader begins to recognize that there are other options to handling conflict, their world expands and elevates their ability to lead.
How would a conflict transformer respond in our example?
Conflict Transformer Response:
“Welcome Jim.” Finish the meeting.
After the meeting, the leader requests a quick one-on-one meeting with Jim.
“Jim, you were 15 minutes late to the meeting today. When you are late, it disrupts the meeting and I have to adjust the agenda on the fly. I request that you honor your commitment to attend meetings and be on time. Do I have your commitment?”
* The leader clearly, calmly states expectations with Jim
* The leader creates a culture of accountability
* The leader encourages appropriate behavior without condemnation
While it takes effort and practice, a conflict transformation leader enjoys significant benefits from choosing to see conflict as an opportunity for positive change.