February 23

When Leading Through the Lens of Conflict: Be Careful of Blindness….

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By Dr. Jason Carthen

While the head of marketing thought it was a good idea to go in a different direction regarding the upcoming meeting, the Vice President of Sales thought more value would come from a targeted effort focused solely upon sales strategy. As I watched the situation unfold, a strange theme began to emerge. A lack of openness (or trust) on either side of the table, this lack of openness and the proverbial digging in of their heels was pointing these two team members toward disaster.

Dr. Jason Carthen: Leading Through the Lens

Take Step Situationally

I suggested that situationally, both the sales and marketing departments would benefit from a hybrid approach to the upcoming meeting, which would allow the company’s quarterly goals to remain the top priority. Thankfully, the head of marketing relented and began to offer suggestions around what he thought would be an effective compromise based upon comments from the members of his department and their quarterly budget projections.

Potentially Toxic Implications of Conflict

I share this story with you this morning because of the potentially toxic implications of conflict when leaders become susceptible to situational blindness caused by a lack of openness. You see, both individuals were in influential positions of leadership with expectations they would lead well and make decisions that would positively effect the overall health of the company. However, when leading through the lens of conflict, principle centered leadership ideals can become fuzzy and be reduced to leading in the moment with reactionary tendencies (and poor outcomes).

Cultivate an Atmosphere of Trust

The best way to guard against the trap of leadership blindness caused by conflict is to embrace openness by cultivating an atmosphere of trust while inviting greater peer accountability. For example, as leaders in organizations demonstrate (or champion) vulnerability and transparency with their colleagues & followers, a culture of trust begins to emerge because both leaders and followers alike understand ultimately it is not about their own personal goals, but the well-being of the company.

Grow Accountability

Additionally, when you have mutual accountability, there is a greater likelihood that some of the tough conversations will take place before unhealthy conflict occurs, rather than being swept under the rug and creating even more of a layer of distrust and blindness.

Leave a comment on my Facebook Page and share with us how you were able to overcome potential leadership blindness caused by conflict. After all, it is pretty hard to lead blindly when you have others that care about you helping to lead the way.


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