In Change, Leaders

“We find comfort among those who agree with us – growth among those who don’t.” – Frank Howard Clark

Most people’s lives follow a predictable pattern.  As we get older, we like to be more comfortable.  Part of being more comfortable is surrounding ourselves with people who think like we do, who like the same things we do, etc.

The problem with that is that as human beings we only grow when we’re forced to.  We’re not very good at learning things we don’t need to know, at being creative when easy solutions are apparent, at being innovative when the way we’ve always done it is still working fine.  We slip into predictable behavior, and the longer we behave in a certain way, the harder it is to get out of the pattern.

That same thinking applies to your organization.  The healthiest organizations I know have a lot of conflict.  It’s not because they hate each other (most days).  It’s not because they don’t respect each other (they do).  It’s not because they don’t trust each other (trust is mandatory).  It’s because, whether accidentally or intentionally, they’ve filled their organization with people who don’t think alike.

These organizations have people who have big dreams, who are realists, who are outgoing, who are shy, who take things extremely seriously, who are very laid back, and so on.  And they have those kind of people at every level, all the way up to their management group.  If you and your management group rarely argue or have conflict, then you might be looking at the world through a very narrow lens.

Now, it’s possible that a lack of conflict could mean you don’t trust each other enough to be honest.  Or it could mean that nobody cares enough to speak up.  Those situations require fixing too.  But assuming you have open, honest communication between people who really care about what they’re doing, you better fight with each other on a regular basis.  Make sure someone you deal with on a regular basis is challenging you.  If not, you can kiss growth (both personal and professional) good-bye.



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