There’s an old proverb that states, “March comes in like a lion and goes out like a lamb.” That’s an encouraging thought. It provides some hope for you if you are experiencing bitter cold or heavy snowfall. Better days lie ahead. Although the proverb can lift your spirits on a cold March day, it doesn’t hold true for “marching” into the boardroom. Conflict can become synonymous with stormy weather and entering into conflict like a lion does not always portend a brighter future. Rather than roaring, take a few cues from the end of March. Here are three keys for navigating conflict.
First, remind yourself that conflict is normal. Even though you have heard it over and over again, it’s important to embrace the uncomfortable feelings that accompany conflict. You can learn to be more comfortable with conflict when you learn how to lead your team into constructive conflict. If you live in a region that experiences the changing seasons you know the drill. It’s colder in the winter. It’s hotter in the summer. Yet, every time the seasons change, you are bound to hear someone complain about the temperature. Change is inevitable. So is conflict. Instead of complaining about conflict as if it should never happen. Stop reacting to conflict and choose to set a new course for success.
Second, learn to depersonalize conflict. When conflict is personalized, defensiveness abounds. Emotions escalate and focus deteriorates. It is important to gather information, check your emotions and provide thoughtful engagement that is focused on the issue rather than personality differences. With practice, you can improve your level of mindfulness in the moment. Cultivate patience and self-control. A lion roars; a lamb listens. There are times to roar, but entering into a conflict with a roar sets the wrong tone. If you have not listened and discerned the real issue, your roar will hinder clear communication.
Third, it’s easier to get stuck in the past than it is to make changes for a brighter future. Too often, conflict behaviors perpetuate painful past experiences. You have a choice to make. Will you continue to stir up the storms of unhealthy conflict or will you usher in a new season? Your decision to build a healthy conflict culture in the boardroom will provide for deeper, more meaningful engagement in the future. It never happens by accident. Healthy conflict requires healthy leaders. That’s why serious leadership development is a significant investment that always begins below the surface. It’s more than a few changes in your behavior.
As a leader, you can help your team set some boundaries for how you will engage in conflict. You can control the temperature in the boardroom. Though the old proverb is not scientific, it has developed some credibility over time. It’s an optimistic idiom. Whether March ends on a high note or not, the weather always warms and improves as the year progresses. With a commitment to constructive conflict, you can afford to be optimistic about your leadership and set the tone for the days ahead.
Learn to navigate the storms of conflict. Healthy conflict begins with healthy leaders. Contact InitiativeOne today.