While building a culture of trust is essential to a leadership team’s growth and success, the fear of conflict can stop any positive growth in its tracks. Conflict happens, especially in business, and the key is to embrace rather than avoid it. As Patrick Lencioni writes in the Five Dysfunctions of a Team, “All great relationships, the ones that last over time, require productive conflict in order to grow.”

Conflict is not taboo, especially in teams where trust is the norm. In fact, allowing conflict provides the opportunity for a multitude of ideas. If there is trust in place, conflict won’t lead to heated exchanges but instead can result in passionate dialogue around key issues – with a full-scale examination of ideas and resultant decisions – that can move your organization forward by leaps and bounds.

While general conflict can be detrimental if left unchecked, I’ve found that when conflict is handled correctly there are definite advantages including:

Earlier Problem Identification – Kari Boyle, Queen’s University IRC Facilitator writes that workplace conflict can shine a light on deeper problems that need to be addressed. “Even the most seemingly trivial disagreements might stem from underlying issues that, if not addressed, are likely to fester and then explode down the road. Thoughtful managers can watch for patterns in the workplace and engage early with the involved staff before the workplace is disrupted by a full-fledged conflict.”

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Author: Rand O'Leary

Rand O’Leary, FACHE most recently served as the PeaceHealth Chief Executive for the Oregon Network. Rand joined PeaceHealth in 2014 and had oversight for operations in Oregon at Sacred Heart Medical Center, RiverBend in Springfield, University District Medical Center in Eugene, Cottage Grove Community Medical Center in Cottage Grove and Peace Harbor Medical Center in Florence. Rand is an experienced healthcare executive and leader, seasoned by over 20 years of leadership in Surgical Services, Neurosciences, Cardiovascular, Ambulatory and Physician Practice Operations during tenures at Borgess Medical Center in Kalamazoo, Michigan, a 425-bed tertiary referral and teaching hospital and member of Ascension Health and the 537-bed St. Joseph Mercy Hospital in Ann Arbor Michigan, the flagship hospital of the St. Joseph Mercy Health System and a member of Trinity Health.