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How to manage team conflict

Welcome to week 7 of my 3-month series called: 

TAKE YOUR LEADERSHIP TO THE NEXT LEVEL: Learn the 3-pillars of leadership success.

Today we will discuss the importance of managing conflict as a critical method of developing a high-performing team.

If your goal is to have a high-performing team, then you must manage conflict effectively.

What happens when you ignore conflict?

Tension increases in your relationships, right? 

What happens when you address conflict properly?

Well, your team can go back to being productive.

It’s important to realize that there are actually two types of conflict:

  1. Destructive conflict: This is an ego-based conflict filled with anger, resentment, and a win-lose outcome. 
  2. Productive conflict: This is when people feel safe to share their ideas even if they are concepts that challenge the status quo or go against the grain. 

Some leaders tend to avoid both kinds of conflict. 

They tend to feel nervous when a conversation gets heated or when they watch other people debate ideas. I hear these leaders say things like, “This debate is going nowhere; I’m out of here.”

Rather, to get buy-in and encourage accountability and commitment on your team, a more effective response could be, “This is great. This debate you are having is exactly what we need to get better results.”

So, don’t avoid a healthy debate. Lean into it and let it take its course.

Here are three effective ways that you can encourage productive conflict on your team:

  1. Focus on the task or idea: Don’t make the conversations personal. It’s not about criticizing another person or their behaviors. Give balanced feedback on why you like the idea and why the idea might be problematic. 
  2. Give everyone a chance to speak. To have a high-performing team, everyone needs to feel heard. During a meeting, for example, you can give each person on your team 3-5 minutes to share their ideas. This creates space for the people who don’t usually share their perspectives to be heard.
  3. Seek first to understand before being understood. This concept is my favorite from Stephen Covey’s book The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People. This approach ensures that you stop talking and really listen to another person’s ideas and perspectives. It does not mean that you will necessarily agree with their approach, but it does ensure that they feel heard.

Your goal as a leader is not to ignore conflict.

Remember that conflict is not innately negative.

Rather, try to be open to other people’s ideas. 

Create the time and space for your team to be heard.

This is a great way to build commitment and accountability on your team.

Lead Your People Program

I am really excited to announce that the next Lead Your People Program will start on November 1st, 2022.

This LIVE program delivered over ZOOM will focus on the 6 key leadership skills that you can leverage to lead your team with confidence and ease. 

Here are the topics and dates:

  • Module 1: How to leverage your workstyle using the DiSC Profile – November 1
  • Module 2: How to give feedback and have difficult conversations – November 29
  • Module 3: How to coach for results – January 10
  • Module 4: How to delegate and develop your team effectively – January 24
  • Module 5: How to manage your time and priorities – February 7
  • Module 6: How to lead and communicate change – February 21

Go here to register and find out more:

Space is limited, so register today.


Vanessa Judelman

Vanessa Judelman is an author, coach, and sought-after leadership expert. Over the past 20 years, she has created a proven formula to develop results-oriented leaders who feel empowered and confident in their job. Vanessa is the author of Mastering Leadership: What It Takes to Lead in Today’s Fast-Paced World. Order your copy here.

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