Conflict Is Rocket Fuel for Teams

Great teams thrive when being challenged.

“Coming together is a beginning; keeping together is progress; working together is success.” — Henry Ford

Teams are surprisingly fragile at first.

The slightest perturbation can lead to a cascade failure. Members are new to each other. Mere words can wound. And in the interest of being accepted, wounds hidden can fester and metastasize without warning.

I wonder even now... Is conflict a necessary right of passage?

After all, when throwing together a disparate group of individuals, friction is inevitable. What starts as a riot of individual desires must be forged by conflict into a unified purpose. As with individuals, teams require discomfort for growth.

I once feared conflict. I now realize it is rocket fuel.

Conflict is a stressor to the team. How the team responds determines its fate. Adapt and grow stronger in the ascent or disintegrate under the pressure.

As a team comes together, internal stress is at its highest.

Members are taking stock of each other. The team dynamic forms organically. Leaders emerge. A natural hierarchy settles in around the team’s mission as conflicts are resolved.

If a team holds together, external stress comes to the forefront.

Members have bonded. Trust is established. But external forces provide one challenge after another in rapid sequence. Bonds are tested and stretched to the limit. If a team remains committed to its mission and its members, those bonds are strengthened.

As a team matures and gets acquainted with success, conflict is no longer feared.

It is welcomed... embraced. Conflict fuels the team for further growth and success. What was once fragile now seeks out challenges.


🤔 Food for Thought:

Can you recall a team that succumbed to conflict?

Have you experienced a team that thrives on any challenge?

What did you learn?


⚙️ One Small Step:

Every team needs a clearly communicated mission that every member can buy into. Without it, conflict will destroy the team from within. Focus intently on the mission when you join your next team. It will make everything that follows much easier to bear.