I had the opportunity to present on the topic of conflict, communication and culture at the Kentucky Primary Care Association (KPCA) conference this week.  Conflict seems to be everywhere today.  And we seem to have lost the ability to handle conflict and work together.  As I researched this topic, I found a great amount of overlap with the topic of leading multi-generational teams, a topic I had spoke on the previous day.

I believe culture is the primary driver of how we handle conflict, both in society and in the workplace.  As leaders, we can develop a culture of openness that allows for conflict to happen, and to be resolved. This starts with the idea of establishing cultural norms and is formalized in how we communicate and model this as leaders.

Cultural Norms

How do you establish a culture?  It can be difficult, but one thing I know is this. If you don’t establish a culture, it will be established for you.

Effective leaders and effective organizations have well-defined (whether intentional or not) cultural norms. Examples of cultural norms include:

  • Communication styles – behavioral preferences, generational preferences
  • Work styles – collaborative or authoritative; structural or flexible
  • Technology – what’s the use and role in your company
  • Work location – working from home vs traditional office vs hybrid
  • Work-life balance – what’s expected, particularly from a generational level
  • Career advancement – what are the expectations for advancement

Dysfunctional Teams

Dysfunctional teams begin with a lack of trust.  I didn’t come up with this, Pat Lencioni discovered it years ago in his book “Five Dysfunctions of a Team”.  Stephen M.R. Covey has further developed the concept in his book “Trust and Inspire”.

I believe the most effective leaders build environments based on trust. As I shared in the workshop, “We have this new environment, a new way of working, and new and effective ways to lead and inspire. New methods of work means new methods to lead.”

We are in a transition of leadership styles that has been underway for at least five decades. We are slowly shifting from a “Command and Control” leadership style to a “Trust and Inspire” leadership style. Many things are driving this. The most significant drivers for this today is the combination of the retirement of Baby Boomers (who embraced the C&C leadership style), and the emergence of Gen-Z (who reject it).

Building A Trust-Based Culture

The most effective leaders are those who can build and lead from an environment and attitude of trust. This will drive more accountability, more engagement and greater performance on the part of teams at all levels in the organization.

I offer many tools to help drive this culture shift. If you want to learn more, contact me at jjennings@focalpointcoaching.com.