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6 Reasons Leadership Conflict Is Good

4. Conflict can help identify the stronger team members. 

If leaders understand that peers will challenge them, they are likely to be better prepared to deal with the challenges brought before them. In that process, the stronger leaders emerge. They have done their homework. They think on their feet well. They are not intimidated or threatened when someone questions their insights. Team members unwilling or unable to participate in healthy debates are either intimated, ineffective, or frustrated.

5. Conflict engenders cross training. 

Team leaders have different experiences, different backgrounds, different leadership styles, and different responsibilities. As they interact with one another in healthy debates, each member can learn from the other. “Iron sharpens iron” may be cliché, but it is nevertheless true.

6. Team members that fight together are more likely to be united in purpose. 

At first blush, that statement may sound counterintuitive. But healthy debate allows each member to speak his or her mind. Each member is free to make contributions. Each member is valued. As long as the differences of opinion do not degenerate into hurt feelings and true animosity, the team becomes stronger and ultimately works together better.

One of the most critical responsibilities of a leader is assembling a healthy leadership team. Jim Collins’ well-known metaphor is highly applicable here. You must get the right people on the bus and then get them in the right seats. Those team members must be of unquestionable character, highly competent, and willing to complement and engage other team members in healthy debate and conflict.  

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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.