Attractive Organizational Culture Begins with the Leader

 In Culture, Leadership, Organizational Development, Team Development

Attractive Organizational Culture Begins with the Leader

Two Steps to Creating a Culture of Productive Conflict

Healthy organizational culture is a product of engaging in healthy, productive conflict.  And we all know that conflict is inevitable and necessary, but how do you encourage teams to engage in productive conflict?

Let’s establish a shared definition of conflict. Conflict is a disagreement about something. Notice that I didn’t mention bloodshed or win-lose scenarios. Conflict at its heart is about disagreement and controversy. Where our emotions take conflict is another story and too much to discuss in a short blog.

As a leader, you have the unique individual responsibility for creating an organizational culture where your employees contribute their best selves, even in disagreements and especially in conflict. And this starts with you.

#1)  Set the example:

Productive conflict on your team starts with you – the leader.

If you:

  • Engage in gossip,
  • Use sarcasm,
  • Talk down to employees, peers, customers,
  • Respond sarcastically,
  • Stonewall,
  • Exaggerate, or
  • Lie (or share half-truths) to get your way,

Pro Tip:  STOP right now.

Your behavior sets the tone for your team, organization, and customers, and these behaviors create an emotionally toxic environment.

To disagree or share dissenting viewpoints, employees need a sense of psychological safety, which means employees feel that you or others on the team won’t punish them for being imperfect or voicing their views (Delizonna, 2017). Collecting viewpoints, especially those you do not understand, will help you see yourself, your work, and your world more clearly.

#2) Listen to and show appreciation for dissenting viewpoints:

In jam-packed meetings, it is easy to move from agenda point to agenda point without stopping to provide time for conversation or acknowledging contributors. When someone on your team voices an opinion or shares a suggestion, you should welcome it, listen, and thank them, even if the idea is outside of the ballpark or completely outlandish.

This simple action acknowledges the individual for their courage to speak up and contribute to the team. Listening and hearing them is truly seeing the person and does not mean you will run with their idea.

If you are a busy leader with a million different demands who move in and out of rooms or Zooms quickly, your employees do not want to “bother,” “delay,” or otherwise get in your way.  Trust me. I know.

Listening and acknowledging shows respect for that person and encourages others on your team to contribute. You will hear unusable ideas, and many of these seemingly useless suggestions will lead to creative solutions from people who rarely speak up. As the leader, you cannot know everything, nor should you come up with every idea.

Pro Tip: Your trusted rockstar employee cannot know everything, either. Invite the viewpoints of others.

If you want to develop an attractive organizational culture, one where your team feels comfortable in their roles, collaborates, and develops practical solutions, you must engage in behaviors that support this. Your team and the organization is counting on you.

And, you are not in this alone. Engaging in coaching and developing self-awareness are two ways to overcome destructive behaviors.

Read these additional blogs:

Contact us to learn about our coaching services.


Resource Cited In this Article
Delizonna, L. (2017, August 24). High-performing teams need psychological safety. Here’s how to create it. Harvard Business Review.

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