If you have read Patrick Lencioni’s The Five Dysfunctions of a Team you are familiar with his Dysfunction Pyramid in which he explains that achieving the results you want for you company is related directly to how well your leadership team is willing to hold each other accountable for the commitments they make. Lencioni strongly makes the point that commitments and accountability for a team is based largely on their ability to engage in healthy conflict. The idea is that a team which has worked on creating a high trust environment for themselves (vulnerability based trust, not predictive trust) is willing to attack issues passionately.
What does healthy conflict look like?
When a team is engaged in healthy conflict emotions can run high. Everybody with a point of view, based on experience, is heard. No politicking. Pros and cons are strongly debated. One outcome is selected. Actions to be done are outlined. Ownership is assigned. Everyone supports it, even if an individual team member may have to disagree and commit. There is no debating forever. Consensus does not have to be reached (although it generally occurs). There is no majority rules. Perfection is not a goal because we all know perfection is the enemy of done. There is either 100% agreement on the solution or the Leader decides.
In an EOS (Entrepreneurial Operating System) run company, we call this IDS’ing an issue. “I”dentifying the root cause of an issue. “D”iscussing the possible solutions. “S”olving by picking one solution or the Leader picking one if we all can’t agree. It is a simple discipline to learn, but it takes hard work and commitment to get good at it.
Here is a great metaphor for the benefit of healthy conflict in a brief video by Steve Jobs. If you can’t see the video below, click here to find it on YouTube.