Building Conflict Competent Teams (J-B CCL (Center for by Craig E. Runde, Tim A. Flanagan

By Craig E. Runde, Tim A. Flanagan

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Interestingly, these same differences can bring excitement and creativity, as well as stress and frustration. In this chapter, we unravel the origin of conflict in teams and explore why it can be so difficult to address. Team Models and Conflict Most major conceptual models of teams recognize the role of conflict, yet they do so in different ways. Katzenbach and Smith (2003) note in The Wisdom of Teams,“A team is a small number of people with complementary skills who are committed to a common purpose, performance goals, and approach for which they hold themselves mutually accountable” (p.

Differences among team members are valuable building blocks on which new ideas, creative solutions, and unrealized potential can be launched. Teams that become behaviorally integrated are more likely to see their differences and conflicts as advantages and opportunities rather than barriers and traps. Constructive Communication At the root of just about every effective human interaction is communication. Not surprisingly, effective communication is critical to conflict competence in teams. indd 16 4/24/08 12:24:56 PM A TEAM IN CONFLICT 17 teams communicate, the quality of communication, the skill it takes to communicate before, during, and after conflict, and techniques for effective conflict management are discussed in Chapters Four and Five.

As Patrick Lencioni suggests in The Five Dysfunctions of a Team (2002), trust enables team members to be willing to show vulnerability and overcome their fear of conflict. When you feel that other team members care about you and have your best interests at heart, you know that if you take a risk or show weakness, they will not penalize you. There is risk involved in a number of the key constructive behaviors associated with conflict. Behaviors such as perspective taking, expressing emotions, and reaching out pose risks: risks of finding out information you do not want to know, risks of looking weak, and risks of being rebuffed for trying to get discussions moving again.

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