by Jon Mullican
Our recent posts compare leadership functioning in some churches with the game of Ouija: questions are posed and decisions made based on hidden forces within and between the members that are not, or will not, be revealed. It is possible to bring the forces out into the open and deal with them in mature and thoughtful ways, so that decisions can be made and actions taken that are intentional, thoughtful and God fearing. Specifically, our last post proposed building trust within the group would lessen the Ouija Board factor and discussed ways of doing so.
A second way to lessen the Ouija Board factor would be to allow conflict to surface within the group and deal with it accordingly. For reasons to complex to explore here, church leadership groups tend to avoid conflict at all costs, choosing instead to “keep the peace” by ignoring present conflict and ensure nothing rocks the proverbial boat. This behavior ensures disaster, albeit a delayed one. To lead well, a group must find ways of dealing with conflict appropriately, dependent on the situation and its importance. This is simple to write and most difficult to do, especially since the group must agree on what is important, whether a real conflict exists and then how do deal with it. Of course, avoiding conflict is not always wrong; it is wrong to always avoid conflict,
One excellent way to learn how you and your fellow leaders deal with conflict is to complete a simple instrument regarding conflict called the Thomas-Kilman Conflict Mode Instrument (a.k.a. TKI)– (read more at http://www.kilmanndiagnostics.com/catalog/thomas-kilmann-conflict-mode-instrument ). Categorizing conflicts modes as Avoiding, Accommodating, Competing, Compromising, and Collaborating, the TKI is a low cost (about $20 per person) fast (it takes about 15 minutes to complete) method for learning one’s primary and secondary natural response modes of dealing with conflict. Follow up training of as little as two hours can provide an excellent understanding of conflict, its value and drawbacks when not handled well, although the four or six hour training sessions are more valuable.
- On a scale of 1 to 10, rank your current leadership group’s ability to properly deal with conflict.
- Recall a time when the group dealt with conflict in an appropriate way. What transpired that worked? What were the behaviors, attitudes, etc.?
- When conflict arises, what is your typical response? Is it different in your leadership role than at home?
- In your reading of the gospels, how did Jesus deal with the various conflicts that emerged around him (there were plenty!)? What modes did he use? Did he use one over another?
Next post we will look at clarifying what is at hand, what the group is working to accomplish to move further away from Ouija Board Leadership.