One of the things that I see us losing in our society is excellent leadership. Finding men/women that will lead is becoming more and more difficult in our culture. In this canceled culture, more and more people in leadership positions do not truly lead when dealing with conflict. Maybe it is due to all the noise they hear from those around them or a fear of making a wrong decision that will cause them to be all over social media. Leading is about dealing with conflict, and many people in our time do not want to deal with conflict, so they do not deal with it. The truth is that when conflict is not dealt with in the right way, then it causes dysfunction within the company, organization, church, or family. John Maxwell says that leaders must learn how to deal with conflict, and it can be done productively. Doing so causes a lack of true leadership and causes problems within the group that needs to be led. Here are some problems when we do not deal with conflict as a leader.
- There is no clarity
Many times we are told as leaders that all we must do is cast the vision and continue to communicate the vision to people until they get it inside of them. I believe that communication of the vision is needed, and as leaders, we must know what the vision is and how to bring people into that vision. However, if we only communicate but never deal with conflict, then the vision becomes cloudy at best. Now I said it would arise because anytime we are leading people, there will be conflicts, and as a leader, we cannot push them aside as if they will fix themselves. Double standards, where we say one thing and do another, cause people to lose faith in the vision that we have communicated no matter how eloquently we spoke it.
- Lack of Leadership brings Chaos.
When leadership does not deal with conflict, it causes chaos within the ranks. People who have no idea where they stand become nervous, anxious, and even troublesome. When leadership fails to lead in an area, especially one of conflict, then it causes chaos to break out in the organization. Chaos does not produce a thriving environment, but rather it stops the flow of productivity and causes things to become volatile. Leaders must deal with issues head-on and lead even when the things that they are dealing with are uncomfortable. Without leadership, there is chaos, and chaos is not good for any group.
- Small fires become out-of-control fires.
Though many people may disagree with a leader on how they deal with conflict, they will respect one that does. When we deal with conflict, it causes people to respect the fact that the leader dealt with the situation. As leaders, we must care more about the people than program, project, etc., but we still must deal with conflict. In my ministry, I have been able to use many of the lessons that I used when leading in the business world, and one of them is what I call the Barney Fife rule, “Nip it in the bud.” The sooner you deal with conflict, the less it is a threat to the organization’s health. Pastor Paul Walker once said, “a leader is like a fireman because you are always putting out fires.” Like any fire, if you get it when it is small, you can control it and put it out with little effort, but the longer you let it burn, the larger and more out of control it becomes. Dealing with conflict when it is small keeps it from moving throughout the whole company, church, or family. The longer you allow it to burn, the more it consumes and harder to put out.
The truth is that leaders that fail to deal with conflict are not leading, but they are creating a chaotic environment that stops growth and productivity. As leaders, we must realize that part of the call is to deal with unpleasant issues as they arise for the group’s health and well-being. As Maxwell says, “success rises and falls on leadership.” Therefore, as leaders, we need to ensure that we are leading to bring success to our organization, business, church, or family.