Conflict is rarely a matter of navigating right vs. wrong decisions.
One of the largest challenges, in Christian organizations particularly, is how we handle conflict. It's as if we believe the presence of conflict means the absence of Christ-like leadership. As a result, conflict often takes a passive-aggressive tone and does more damage over the long-term. As Christian leaders, we have an opportunity and responsibility to engage in healthy conflict that drives better decisions and performance. Handled effectively, conflict builds stronger teams and develops stronger leaders.
Leading through healthy conflict requires specific skills, not simply a commitment to be nice or kind to one another. Conflict is rarely a matter of navigating right vs. wrong decisions — those are easy. Healthy conflict is often navigating teams through right vs. right decisions or competing values. One of the first things a leader can do when they experience conflict is to ask the question, "What are the values behind your positions?" Most often, conflict shows up in competing positions on an issue. Team members pick a side on a behavior or position and argue the merits of their positions. It's super easy for conflict to get stuck here, and when we can't win someone over to our position, we start to attack the person.
When leaders can get people to talk about what is important to them, they find their team members agreeing on much more than they disagree on. When conversations get below the surface around values, new and creative options emerge, and the team feels a sense of unity because they solved problems together.
So whenever a conversation or meeting starts to feel difficult, let that emotion trigger you to ask the question, "What is important to you about this?"