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  • Writer's pictureLorissa Page

Combative you say! I call it brave and considered

My approach to dealing with conflict, dysfunctional teams and challenging behaviours has been described as combative, even suicidal. Comments made by leaders who avoid conflict at all costs..

Photo by Jon Tyson

I have always felt that my world view was different to many of my corporate peers but the stark difference in approach to dealing with conflict was startling. I firmly believe that management inaction in fronting and dealing with challenging team dynamics and situations is detrimental to all concerned.

Avoiding open and honest conversation stunts the potential and growth of individuals and teams and in the long run, the company’s productivity and performance.

When tackling the difficult, it has to be approached from a position of respect, respect for those involved in the conflict or change. Any change process requires a shift in mindset, but that change will only be effective through candid, warts and all discussions, delivered in a way that leaves a person’s dignity intact. This then empowers the individual to make informed choices.

Starting from the position and belief that everybody has the resources to be the best version of themselves requires honest introspection of our own views, beliefs and motives and a desire to connect with people. A manager’s role is to have belief in team, the ability of individual team members and a desire to help foster that inner belief in each team member. If it involves having a difficult conversation to address problematic behaviour, so be it. This is the approach I have taken with those I have managed and supported over the years, and the only way to achieve sustainable service improvement.

It also helps when leaders are open, listen and appreciatethat they don’t have all the answers. It isn’t a smooth or easy path, it takes strength, humility and consideration of others, if you want to be an effective manager there is no space for ego. There is room for passion and aspiration, a novel approach in this ‘me first’ world.

I genuinely believe that ‘difference’ is a good thing, but with this difference comes struggle, having to overcome misconceptions, justified by the entitled. Nothing new here, it is a recognised and familiar reality for many. Perhaps having a different worldview, one not shaped by privilege or a sense of entitlement creates an inner will and desire to strive for better and enables you to see the possible in your work.

My leadership power is being honest with myself and with others, being fair and balanced, remaining true to my values and wanting to make a positive difference to those around me – big or small. What’s yours?

Having a fair and balanced approach makes those challenging conversations easier and will in the long run win the respect of colleagues and staff.

Combative? Suicidal? Dealing with conflict does not equate to being rude or combative, it involves strength, compassion and courage.


Embrace the difference, for through it the impossible can be achieved.

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