I often get asked to come and help an organisation or business when they are going through a conflict crisis. 

The wheels are falling off, and they ring me to help them get through the crisis. 

After being briefed by the leader, the first thing I do is meet with all of the parties for a confidential venting session.  This helps them to get clarity about the issues and to get some stuff off their chest. 

One of the questions I always ask in these venting sessions is who is the boss? It sounds like a silly question.  Surely the leader who engaged me is the boss – but the reality is that often a completely different person is deemed to be the boss of the office or workplace. 

Sometimes two people are vying for the position of leader/boss. 

What this tells me is: 

  1. There is not a lot of clarity about vision, roles and responsibilities and expectations; and
  2. Someone has stepped into the void.  If the leader is not leading effectively, someone else will step up and lead.  If two people try to fill this void, then there can be war. 

Every organisation needs to have a boss or leader.  An orchestra needs a conductor; a beehive needs a queen bee; dogs need a pack leader.  

One of the roles of leadership is to make everyone feel safe; safety comes from knowing where you stand, knowing where you are going and knowing who you go to when there is a problem. 

Every organisation needs structure, rules and most importantly, an effective leader. 


I have been working out. I had a bit of a break from really working out over the last few months due to a mix of work and family commitments. But this is bad form for me and I realised that I had to get fit again – really fit. 

So I started doing group exercise and really pushing myself. 

Oh, the pain!  I have had sore legs, arms, glutes, quads etc… You know you’re alive after you work out. 

Working out is the process of working a muscle until it “tears” or “gets exhausted” and the muscle then needs to repair and then the muscle gets stronger.  

You can’t truly fit without putting all of your muscles under stress.  No pain, no gain. 

The same is true of your conflict muscles. 

Most of us are so conflict-averse that we avoid conflict like the plague.  So what that means is that we tolerate behaviour that is rude or inappropriate; we say yes when we are thinking no; we are compliant so that we don’t rock the boat.  As a result, we complain about other people, we feel bad about ourselves for not taking action and sometimes our health is negatively affected because we are so stressed about the behaviour of others. 

Conflict is just information that there is a problem. When we put it on the table and talk about it, then we have some chance of resolving the issues and making a change.  

So I think that dealing with conflict when it arises is like working out.  It’s uncomfortable initially but over time the muscle gets used to working in that way and it gets easier and easier. 

Being assertive, looking out for ourselves, speaking up and expressing our concerns or providing feedback is good for your soul and your physical and mental health. 

So don’t be scared of your team “working their conflict muscle” – in fact, I say you should encourage it.  It’s not as scary as you think.