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6 Reasons Leadership Conflict Is Good

One of the most important steps a leader can take is to build a good team. Those teams take on a personality unto themselves, a personality that can be good or not so good.

There are obvious extremes that the leader hopes his team will avoid. On the one extreme is a largely passive and quiet team. The leader dominates the conversation; the team is really just his audience. Most comments made by team members are to please or affirm the leader. Team members can choose either silence or sycophantic comments.

The other extreme takes place where team members simply do not get along. Most of them don’t like each other. The leader has little control. Each team member is a judge in his or her own fiefdom with little regard for the organization as a whole.

The challenge is bringing together a team where each member respects the other, but each member is also willing to engage in healthy debates or conflict for the good of the organization. These members care fiercely about the organization more than themselves, but they don’t always agree about what’s best for the organization. This conflict is healthy. Let’s look at six reasons why.

1. Good leaders will have strong opinions. 

It’s a good sign when team members speak up with good insights. It means the leader has assembled an “A” team with members who are confident and informed.

2. An organization needs differing perspectives. 

My leadership team is comprised of seven unique leaders. Each of them helps us see issues in differing lights. We have made some good decisions and avoided some bad decisions because of the collective wisdom of strong leaders with different viewpoints.

3. Healthy debate and differences create “aha” moments. 

One of the fascinating parts of being on a healthy team is to watch the momentum of a healthy debate. As one member challenges another, we sometimes make a “discovery” that one perspective alone would not have engendered. Some of our better decisions have come in the midst of a rather heated debate among team members.

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Thom S. Rainer is the president and CEO of LifeWay Christian Resources (LifeWay.com). Among his greatest joys are his family: his wife Nellie Jo; three sons, Sam, Art, and Jess; and six grandchildren. He was founding dean of the Billy Graham School of Missions, Evangelism, and Church Growth at The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary. His many books include Surprising Insights from the Unchurched, The Unexpected Journey, and Breakout Churches.