Conflict. It is a part of every area of our life. But what do we do about the conflict that just won’t go away – conflict that is not just a one-time thing but is rooted in diverse backgrounds and views? In every team of leaders, there will be varying belief systems, leadership styles and opinions. How do you work through it?
Start by understanding the people you work with. You may sense disagreement with someone but when you get to the root you will find you agree on more than you think. Often we think we know the motivation behind someone’s actions without taking the time to find out much about the person. Ask questions and discover more about her background and feelings. Spend time together outside of MOPS to explore the personal details of each others’ lives. Focus on the person and not the problem for awhile. The more you know about someone, the more her opinions and actions make sense.
Get to know the personality and leadership styles of the others on your team. We can work better together when we know how our teammates learn, communicate and lead. Do a personality or leadership study together. If you present an opportunity to a kinetic learner (one who wants to touch, feel and move around with the idea) using an auditory method (a lecture), the kinetic learner will miss the point. If you present an idea to an auditory learner in a visual manner (just pictures), she will have a difficult time assessing it. If you give a Dominant personality a task but don’t give her the freedom to do it, you will only frustrate her. If you assign the fun-loving otter in your group to handle the budget and the detail-oriented beaver to lead an icebreaker, they will both be discouraged and anxious. We want to stretch leaders beyond what they have done before but if we can stretch them while still supporting the individual’s personality and style, we will develop a strong leader. Manage these diverse styles by knowing your team.
Find your commonalities. In the midst of diverse views and opposing opinions, there is common ground. In MOPS our common ground is our shared desire to encourage, equip and develop every mother of preschoolers. Our purpose and our individual relationships with Jesus are our greatest commonality. It is okay to disagree but does our disagreement strengthen us in our purpose or does it weaken us? If discussing our different opinions brings us to a place where we can reach more moms better, then keep talking about them. Use the discussion to generate new ideas or reach a consensus. If those different opinions aren’t benefitting our team or are interfering with accomplishing our goals, then we must put them aside and refocus. The health and well-being of the team or the group is more important than the individual opinions of its leaders.
Teams work better when every member is encouraged to bring her personality, passions, ideas and opinions with her. Life and leadership would be boring if no one had a different viewpoint but sometimes our5 passion for a cause or our commitment to an opinion stirs up conflict. Taking the time to get to know each other, discovering how each team member leads and focusing on our common ground allows us to hold onto our personal views while still accomplishing our goals.
Author: Kelli Jordan, Leadership Development Manager