Organizational health is the topic is this book. For a group to be healthy, there must be honesty, integrity. When that is present, permission for healthy conflict is part of the group’s operating rules.
Some Christians have equated different ideas and perspectives with a lack of spirituality. This opens the door to what we see in many leadership groups: politics, frozen momentum, helplessness, and hopelessness. No one can consistently communicate his best ideas without sometimes disagreeing with someone else. And so they don’t. As a result, the most overbearing or the most influential person (often for the wrong reasons) rules the group.
I hope the following “mustard seeds” will encourage you to buy the book, digest it, and discuss it in your group to improve the health of your leadership team.[All page numbers are from the Kindle edition.]
The kind of trust that is necessary to build a great team is what I call vulnerability-based trust. This is what happens when members get to a point where they are completely comfortable being transparent, honest, and naked with one another, where they say and genuinely mean things like “I screwed up,” “I need help,” “Your idea is better than mine,” “I wish I could learn to do that as well as you do,” and even, “I’m sorry.” (page 27).
When there is trust, conflict becomes nothing but the pursuit of truth, an attempt to find the best possible answer. It is not only okay but desirable. Conflict without trust, however, is politics, an attempt to manipulate others in order to win an argument regardless of the truth. (page 38).
Nowhere does this tendency toward artificial harmony show itself more than in mission-driven nonprofit organizations, most notably churches. People who work in those organizations tend to have a misguided idea that they cannot be frustrated or disagreeable with one another. What they’re doing is confusing being nice with being kind. (page 44).
The only way to prevent passive sabotage is for leaders to demand conflict from their team members and to let them know that they are going to be held accountable for doing whatever the team ultimately decides. (page 51).
There are a few critical keys to making staff meetings work, many of which I’ve already discussed in this book. For instance, if there are too many people on a team, or if the people in the room don’t trust each other and aren’t willing to engage in productive conflict, then no matter how you reorganize your meetings you won’t see much impact. (page 178).
When it comes to building a cohesive team, leaders must drive the process even when their direct reports are less than excited about it initially. And they must be the first to do the hardest things, like demonstrating vulnerability, provoking conflict, confronting people about their behavior, or calling their direct reports out when they’re putting themselves ahead of the team. (page 191).