Case Study: Conflict Mediation

Media Company

It’s not unusual for a senior leadership team to have incompatible goals, interests, feelings, or principles – which defines conflict.   This situation was different. 

The president of the firm and leader of this talented senior leadership team shared how the team had not been as forthcoming with innovation and creativity – the lifeblood of what drives the success of the business.   When I observed the team at their weekly meeting, I noticed how jovial and easy going the group was.  However, when differences surfaced, for example, most members targeted one of the high performers and the tension in the room raised to a higher level.    

The dynamic changed as the individual with whom others disagreed with, became defensive, and as others fell in line with the disagreement, the conflict escalated.  The level of conflict dissipated after a while and later when I met with the president, I mentioned that the cause of the drop off in innovation and creativity had a lot to do with how members told a joke, while served to break the tension.     This idea was challenged. 

In observing the team in action, I explained, how, when the level of conflict clearly increased, the someone said something – and folks laughed which helped diffuse the conflict.  This same situation occurred the second time I observed the group. 

I suggested when the discomfort and tension that was felt during the meetings when disagreement and conflict escalated which centered on the one individual, the need to diffuse the tension was significant, hence a team member, including the president, felt need to brake the tension.

The unintended consequence of this strategy to curtail any disagreement – had the effect of not allowing innovative ideas or creativity being advanced by the team, as innovative ideas were short circuited due to the team’s’ difficulty dealing with conflict. 

Exelligence recommended the team take a Conflict Dynamics Profile, to learn their individual (and team’s) choices when conflict surfaced.  In a learning workshop centered on mitigating conflict and how the Conflict Dynamics Profile, helps focus on constructive vs. destructive behaviors, in conflict and knowledge of pone’s hot buttons that can set us off into conflict.  The process helped the team commit to learn how to see conflict as an opportunity, and change the way members respond to conflict to experience better outcomes, including differences in their meetings to allow the voice of creativity to surface.