Leadership in Higher Education Entry #8

Today, our reading assignment involved a chapter by Bolman and Gallos on Managing Conflict.

While reading it, I came across this quote in regard to making conflict productive:

“The goal is not to eliminate conflict–not all disagreements can be fully resolved. It is to create processes that enable individuals to learn and grow from their differences and that allow organizations to extract the creative value buried in them.” (Page 131 of Reframing Academic Leadership)

This quote struck a cord in me because I believe in it so much. I believe in civil discourse. PLEASE DISAGREE WITH ME. I get so frustrated when I make a statement in class or during a meeting and I get no kind of feedback and later on find out that someone didn’t want to disagree with me because they’re afraid that they’ll get “skewered.”

I’m not that kind of person and I have never “skewered” someone for disagreeing with me. Do I back up my own beliefs? Absolutely, because I believe that I shouldn’t say I believe something unless I am prepared to defend it. I admit when I’m struggling and I try to admit when something is an opinion or a theory rather than state things as fact.

How can my relationship with someone grow if we never challenge one another? Every positive, meaningful relationship that I’ve ever had has been with people who I could disagree with healthily and learn from their perspectives.

I will admit I’m not perfect at this. I get fired up about some things like Queer Rights Issues and other topics that are very near to my personal identities, but I make an effort and I don’t shy away from conflict.

My point: I truly believe that the majority of conflicts need to be confronted–maybe not head on and maybe not with a battering ram, but avoidance is almost never the answer. I don’t judge anyone whose main style is to avoid a conflict but I encourage them to work on being comfortable with conflict.

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