I think I spent most of last year trying to avoid conflict.
But Patrick Lencioni, in his The Five Dysfunctions of a Team, claims "all great relationships ... require productive conflict in order to grow" (p. 202).
What's going on here?
Lencioni uses an extended fable to describe the dynamics of high-functioning teams. In this fable, a struggling IT company hires Kathryn to be their new CEO and help them fix whatever mysterious thing it is that's keeping them from achieving what they set out to achieve. Kathryn focuses on their teamwork (or lack thereof) and challenges her company to move toward more trusting, honest, committed, accountable and results-aware teams.
The folks on Core Group found a lot in the book to help us grow as a community, but the one idea that really impacted for me is the need for productive, ideological conflict. What a challenge! If a team really has established trust and we know that we care about each other and want what's best for each other, then we should be able to passionately pull of the things we care about. That just doesn't happen around me.
I know that I try to stave off conflict, forge compromises, avoid disputes. What happens, then, is that, because people never have the freedom to voice their concerns, they never really commit to the things they were concerned about. According to Lencioni, you can't have full commitment, accountability and all that unless you're willing to engage in productive conflict.
Some of the changes Core Group is making this year are going to reflect this truth. We'll be trying to create more space for productive conflict, for honest sharing of concerns and dialogue.
We may end up doing the same things we would have done otherwise, but hopefully we'll be moving forward as a team, not just a collection of individuals.
As living members of the body of Christ, we need each other. We need teams.