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Conflict + Curiosity = Team Creativity



Conflict + Curiosity = Team Creativity

As a leader do you:

  • struggle with unresolved tension on your team?

  • get frustrated that people talk to you, but not directly to each other?

  • believe your team doesn’t have the right sense of urgency?

  • have a team that likes each other, but is stalled producing mediocre results?

  • suffer through boring status reporting meetings, where people look to you to give the final go ahead?

These common concerns we hear from leaders are often the result of teams that avoid conflict and/or miss the magic that comes when curiosity is added to the mix.

Why is that?

Just mention the word conflict and it creates all sorts of reactions! The fact is, conflict is unavoidable. Well, okay, you could avoid conflict, but the cost is too great. It isn’t worth it. Believe me, over our twelve years of working with teams, we’ve seen the dysfunction, pain, and poor results of trying to ignore conflict.

Marketing experts have told us here at thrive! that we shouldn’t use the word conflict in our branding. It’s not very relatable. Really? Any relationship will, and does, involve some degree of conflict. The more significant the relationship, the higher the likelihood of conflict.

Conflict is not a villain or something to avoid.

Of course, no one wakes up wanting to engage in conflict. No one goes to work hoping the day will be filled with conflict. Conflict is not comfortable or easy.

However, most of us want to wake up passionate about something, right?! We want to be engaged and have an impact and an opinion about what we do with our day.

Unless we work totally solo, the combination of vision, opinion, and passion is likely to create the possibility of conflict. In fact, I almost guarantee it will.

I have to admit, even I don’t love conflict (some people who know me may be surprised). What I do love is the perfect storm when vision, opinion, and passion come together.

Why? Because I know that combination is fertile ground for creativity, innovation, and “Aha!” moments. That is, if it’s handled correctly.

Though we’ve talked about the importance of conflict (and will continue to use the word conflict in our marketing efforts), I’m not sure we’ve really made it clear that conflict alone isn’t enough. There’s a key ingredient that makes conflict a valuable resource.

That magic ingredient is choosing curiosity.

Where there is conflict, there’s always a point of choice for those involved: defend or be curious! It’s really quite simple, though I admit it’s not always easy.

Mix vision, opinion, and passion on a team (two or more people), and there’s going to be a moment of choice. Do I defend my opinion or do I get curious? This choice makes all the difference, on teams and in any relationship.

So, what do I mean by get curious? I mean pause, consider, and honestly reflect on what else besides your own opinion is being presented. Even if someone else’s idea seems insane to you, they came to it for a good reason. The challenge is to pause for just a moment and see if you can understand (not agree on) how they came to their “insane” position.

I know. It is not easy. When I’m passionate about something and have a strong opinion, it can be very hard to pause and listen, much less reflect and consider.

Still, when I do this, or when I see anyone on a team do this during a team off-site we’re facilitating, it’s like magic. Something in the room shifts. I’ve seen it over and over again. Sure, it’s great if everyone is willing to be curious, but that’s not what usually happens. However, one person can make a difference.

When one person stops, listens, and reflects back – with genuine curiosity – to the opposing opinion of a peer, it is powerful. Being curious under fire is the most courageous act of a leader.

The result is amazing, because when the combination of vision, opinion, and passion leads to conflict, but is combined with curiosity, that leads to new possibilities.

If you’re reading this and want to find out how you can break through your team’s unproductive behaviors, call us for a free consultation: Discover How to Crack the Code of Your Team’s Conflict.

During the call you will:

  • create a sense of clarity about the team you really want to have,

  • find out the essential building blocks for teams that experience healthy conflict and get creative results,

  • discover the #1 thing stopping your team from having healthy conflict and creative results,

  • identify the most powerful actions that will move your team beyond the conflict fear factor, and

  • complete the consultation knowing exactly what you can do next as a leader to create a healthy, fully engaged team that produces great results!

We’d love to be a resource to you. Hey, what do you have to lose? If you keep doing the same thing, you’re going to keep getting the same results!


CrisMarie Campbell and Susan Clarke

Coaches, Business Consultants, Speakers and Authors of The Beauty of Conflict

CrisMarie and Susan work leaders and teams, couples in business, and professional women.

They help turnaround dysfunctional teams into high performing, cohesive teams who trust each other, deal with differences directly, and have clarity and alignment on their business strategy so they create great results.

Check out their website: www.thriveinc.com. Connect with CrisMarie and Susan on LinkedIn. Watch their TEDx Talk: Conflict – Use It, Don’t Defuse It! Find your copy of The Beauty of Conflict: Harnessing Your Team's Competitive Advantage here.


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