Many people assume that conflict in the workplace is always bad. But I think there are times when conflict is good—because if everybody always has the same opinion about everything, somebody’s not needed around here!
I love to gather a team around me where people have different opinions and feel free to disagree with each other about things. Why? Because in this way, one plus one can equal about ten, if people share different points of view. One of my favorite phrases is “No one of us is as smart as all of us” and that especially rings true when you have people around you who aren’t afraid to give you their opinion on something. Everyone can work together for the greater good. So it’s healthy to encourage a little conflict or difference of opinion at work, as long as it’s constructive.
If some people on your team have personality conflicts and are just causing trouble and drama, that’s a different story. That’s a problem you may need to deal with as a leader. But generally speaking, if you encourage different opinions, you can learn what everyone is thinking and work out the best decision for the team as a whole. You don’t want a bunch of “yes” people around you or it may lead you down the wrong road.
My father, who was an admiral in the navy, used to tell me, “Ken, if you don’t hear complaining from your people, watch out because it means there’s going to be a mutiny!” If you aren’t hearing about concerns and conflicts, it may be because your people have cut you off from the channels of communication. You need to know about those things and encourage that kind of sharing. Let your people know that they can have a different opinion and still survive around you, because you are open to hearing their ideas. It will benefit your team and, ultimately, your entire organization.