OK, sales leaders! Let’s talk about something we all face: conflicts in our teams. It’s like being on a rollercoaster, it has a dizzying effect and makes you feel like puking. But though often unpleasant, conflicts don’t have to completely derail us. When most of us think “conflict” we think “arguing” “fighting” and other negative connotations.
But in fact, conflict can spark some of the most innovative ideas and push us toward growth (whether we like it or not!). How we handle conflicts and foster collaboration in our teams is going to dictate their overall success. So to say it’s important is an understatement. It’s VITAL.
The Conflict Lies Within
So if conflict resolution is SO important to our team’s success, where do we begin to solve such a broad issue? I know when you think of conflict, you think of your issues with other people or issues among a group of people. But at the root of it all, the key to conflict resolution is self-awareness (yep, yet another thing you are responsible for).
Conflict begins with each individual’s defensiveness. And each defensiveness is as unique as a person’s eye color. Now, even though defensive feelings are internal the cues you can identify to check yourself before you wreck yourself are external. Though difficult to identify at first, one’s external defensive cues are as familiar as an old, dysfunctional friend, we just never stop to think about them, let alone try to change them.
For example, when Joe gets defensive, he tends to start sweating, his face feels hot and turns red and he gets rapid heart palpitations. Some might get shaky, have a dry mouth, and go silent. Or talk too much. We all must be in tune to our “defensive cues” before we can solve them. Once you know your external signs, you can then devise steps to take when you notice they are happening. It can be as simple as 1- Note my cues, 2- Ask for a minute or two, 3- Go splash cold water on your hot, sweaty face, 4- Take 10 deep breaths, 5- Reset and start over.
Easier said than done, I know, but with practice, you will be surprised how quickly it becomes a habit to identify your defensive cues and jump to your recovery steps. Often it is hard to identify when a certain atmosphere or culture is fostering a likelihood for conflict. Are there any indicators that can be identified? Why, yes there are. Let’s look into the 3 most common cultures we see in businesses today and what each one says about how conflict may or may not be bred.
Identifying True Colors
It seems almost elementary, a color-coded system based on one’s behavior. Most had something similar in grade school. Each day, the teacher would send home a little card, hanging off of the backpacks, to tell parents how good or bad their kids were that day. A green tag and you were golden, a yellow tag and you were meh, a red tag meant you were in BIG trouble. More than once kids would rip off their red tag and throw it in a snowbank, feigning surprise at its absence once home. The adult version of conflict isn’t too different except you can’t get away with throwing away the colored tag, it is evident in everything you do.
What Zone Do You Lead From
|Out for Self ONLY
|Out for Self ONLY
|Result-Driven for EVERYONE involved
|Higher growth potential
|Feels like Warfare
|Feels Like Guerilla Warfare
|Feel like Problem-Solving
Look at the characteristics listed under every color grouping. Can you see some of the attitudes of your past leaders? What about if you look inward, can you identify what grouping you fall into? The stakes are much higher than red tags in grade school. If you can see yourself in the red or pink grouping, you might want to take heed. Your success as a leader and your team’s success depends on your self-awareness and your ability to do something about it (fear not- we are going to give you the “how to” playbook by the end of this blog).
Collaboration for Sustainable Growth
Now, you keep hearing that success is tied to these zones but we are sure you are thinking, can you prove it? Why, thank you, don’t mind if we do! As posted by Ronen Pessar this week on LinkedIn, the results below were rendered after an 11-year study of 200+ blue chip companies, across 22 industries.
Here are 4 stats that prove that the success of a company hinges GREATLY on the green zone vs the red/pink zone:
- Net income improved: 756% VS 1%
- Stock price growth: 901% VS 74%
- Employee growth: 282% VS 36%
- Revenue growth: 682% VS 166%
(Source: Kotter & Heskett- “Corporate Culture and Performance”)
Damn good representative sample, if you ask me. And with such a long-term sample, that spans across so many different types of businesses, it is hard to argue that your company’s ROI would fare any different. Who knew that conflict resolution could have such a major impact on almost every aspect of a company?
Sustainable growth is possible but only if you are willing to do the hard work. And once you commit, then you have to help your team understand the process and aid them in becoming a part of the solution. Collaboration becomes the natural state once we all become self-aware and make sure we are living, working, and producing from the green zone. As human beings, we all long for the same things, significance, competency, and belonging. Given the state of many companies these days, this may seem like a fairytale but it has been proven! If you could do this for yourself. Your teams. Your whole entire org… Why wouldn’t you prioritize conflict resolution to promote sustainable growth?
In the End
All of this can be achieved with self-awareness, learning to identify our external defensive cues, and getting in touch with how to combat those cues. Once the internal work is completed, gathering your team for a deep dive into their cues and ways to counteract them would only benefit the team overall. Though conflict will always be present, learning ways to identify and cope with it is key to changing things for the better. A collaborative culture is not only critical for harmony among teams and an appealing culture but for the success of your company.
If you want to dig deeper into these attitudes, the zone system, and how to best implement these practices, join us for RightBound’s virtual lunch series.