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Maintaining Harmony by Controlling Conflict

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6 Steps to Sustainable Leadership, Step 5: Maintaining Harmony

Leadership Highlights:
  • We all have a tendency to distort others' action and a need to be justified in our actions, and this helps us see ourselves as good and others as bad.

  • Acting in a negative way will more than likely enable conflict and, more often than not, our actions will be based on incorrect assumptions.  As humans, we are inclined to give more weight to negative thoughts as we all struggle with a negativity bias.

    • -Something someone does angers me (their action is out of my control).

    • -I see/distort (something I control and is usually based on incorrect assumptions).

    • -I act (something I control).

    • -Others act (out of my control).

Does any of this apply to you? It certainly does to me. :-)


We all play a role in conflict development and supervisors need to help all team members understand how conflict develops and what we can do to prevent it. This is critical to enabling the team's ability to maintain harmony, maximize its strengths and consistently exceed expectations.

The most influential book I have read on this topic is Leadership and Self Deception from the Arbinger Institute. The model of collusion presented in this book provides an excellent explanation of our tendency to distort others' actions into "self-justifying" reasons for judging others (while seeing ourselves as good, hardworking and honest).

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