Critically discussing ideas and the way forward is vitally important to an organization. As a leader, it falls to you to shape conversations in a thoughtful, frank way, within a positive and encouraging environment. Discussing competing opinions, goals, and perspectives shouldn’t lead to anger, and you can maximize the benefits of creative conflict by setting some ground rules.
Maximize the Benefits of Creative Conflict:
Building that positive environment and leveraging creative conflict requires three crucial elements.
- Establish ground rules. Fundamentally, these rules determine the boundaries of the discussion and what happens in the room during the meeting. Write those rules out, and ensure everyone agrees to abide by them.
- Set an agenda. Have a map of relevant topics to follow and don’t stray from it. Your goal is to gather honest input from your team about specific ideas and plans. Additionally, to encourage everyone to participate, as the leader, try to be the last person to speak. If you weigh in with your perspective, the fact that you’re in charge can discourage others from speaking up, for fear of being seen as speaking against you. Hold your tongue until the end, and don’t stifle discussion.
- Create a team covenant. Similar to the ground rules noted above, a team covenant provides a model for everyone’s behavior. When everyone agrees to the covenant – commits to it – they take greater responsibility and are not just compliant, but invested in maintaining the positive environment for critical discussion.
Enjoy the journey!