Conflict, not false harmony, is your real friend…

Today’s politically correct culture produces an abundance of teams with “false harmony.” These teams look good on the outside. They never fight in public. They do not know how to fight in private. They avoid real conflict. These teams underperform as a result. I see this throughout my practice and you will too if you pay attention.

Here’s why this is the norm…do not miss this. The reason we choose false harmony over conflict is because choosing false harmony is just a little bit easier. Actually, it is a lot easier in the short haul. How much easier is it for you to talk about your spouse with a friend then to face him or her directly? How much easier is it for you to talk to your coworkers about your abusive peer or leader than to invest the energy in understanding that same person’s perspective? The real reason it is easier to live with false harmony is this…using conflict to improve performance takes big doses of COURAGE! It takes courage to face your fear of rejection and run into real conflict with your spouse, friend, coworker, or leader.Here’s the good news. Most conflict is not a problem to be avoided but instead is a conversation to be had. As we really learn how to TALK, we discover that most of our conflict is really just a communications problem. A translation issue that two people can usually solve on thier own or with the help of a loving third party. It just takes time.

A team that values false harmony over healthy conflict is a team destined to underperform. They will look good on the outside and may even carry a nice multiple on Wall Street. They will not sustain high performance, however. High performance teams know that conflict is their friend. The energy that comes from a diverse, innovative, results oriented, passionate group of people will generate heat. This heat will fuel their high performance and will also produce some heated moments. During these conflicts, high performance leaders will mine for conflict instead of burying it!! Do you see it?

Problems do not get better with age. Conflict does not resolve itself. You and your team are not part of some kinda self healing system. Problems must be addressed to be eliminated. The sooner they are addressed the more simply they are solved. Period.

Move toward your team members. Expect conflict. Expect lots of conflict. Move toward them, anyway. And, remember that together we improve is more than our tagline. It is what we demand from ourselves and expect from our clients. Remember, conflict is not the enemy.  Valuing false harmony is the problem. You and your team are choosing a culture. Make it a culture that values truth not the lie of false harmony. You choose. Your choices have consequences…

4 thoughts on “Conflict, not false harmony, is your real friend…

  1. Chet:

    So very true. And you attribute this ineffective behavior to the correct source: a lack of courage (or the flip side of the same coin, insecurity).

    With some teams, conflict is suppressed by the leader, with implicit or explicit threat of the loss of employment. In other cases the team itself squelches the critic, effectively ‘excommunicating’ them from the team.

    I think the best teams are a coalition of bright and passionate folks who participate and contribute not because they ‘need the job’ but rather because they are motivated by what the team accomplishes, and enjoy how it goes about doing it.


  2. Chet,

    I completely agree, and I’ll add two thoughts regarding conflict…I believe it’s not always what you say, but HOW you say it. When you stand on a foundation of love and respect, conflict helps us dig in and create real solutions that last. Secondly, have you ever seen a movie that lacks conflict ever win an Oscar? Most likely, it won’t even be made! Like a good movie with conflict, teams that are able to have ‘robust’ dialogue and conflict and perform at high levels are awesome to be a part of!


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