Are you a conflict "causer" or a conflict "resolver"?

by Alan Hosking: Publisher of HR Future, South Africa's human strategy magazine, and a Leadership Renewal Coach for senior executives.
The “observable universe” is a term given to that part of the Universe that we humans have been able to observe through various means. According to Wikipedia, “The observable universe is a ball-shaped region of the universe comprising all matter that can be observed from Earth or its space-based telescopes and exploratory probes at the present time, because the electromagnetic radiation from these objects has had time to reach the Solar System and Earth since the beginning of the cosmological expansion.”

Its radius is estimated by scientists to be 93 billion light years. For those of you who slept through this part of your science classes at school (or have simply and understandably forgotten), a light year is measured as the distance light travels in one year – at just on 300 000 kms per second.

So, travelling at 300 000 kms per second (yes, per second), it will take your little torch beam 93 billion years to get from one side of the known universe to the other.

My point?

That part of the universe that we’ve managed to get to know about is big, pretty big.

And in that vastness, we have not yet found any planet or other celestial body inhabited by intelligent life like or superior to ours.

That means we’re alone. Very alone.

Yet despite our uniqueness, despite our aloneness in this vast emptiness, we. Just. Can’t. Get. On. With. One. Another.

Look at the conflict that is happening between nations like Russia and Ukraine. Then, look no further than the political conflict that happened in the US during Donald Trump’s presidency, not to mention the ongoing conflict that’s happening in South Africa as political parties fight with one another and even fight amongst themselves with their own members.

Consider the conflicts that happen in society. Then consider the conflict that’s happening in your own company and possibly even in your own team.

Now zoom out a few billion kilometres away from our fair planet and look back at us. Why can’t we learn to live in peace and harmony with one another? Why do we have to be so small minded, selfish and self-centred?

But before you point fingers at others, take a long, hard look at yourself. Are you a conflict “causer” or a conflict “resolver”?

If you’re in a leadership position, I urge you to form a different perspective of human beings and of yourself and commit to becoming a peacemaker rather than a trouble maker.

In a leadership programme I am currently running for a company, we’ve been having some very interesting discussions on conflict and conflict resolution. It’s been interesting, but not surprising, to hear the delegates talking about how much they don’t like conflict and try to avoid it, thus not trying to resolve it. I assured them that they’re quite normal – no emotionally mature person thrives on conflict nor intentionally seeks it out.

The trick, however, is for leaders to learn how to intelligently and competently manage and resolve conflict when it raises its ugly head.

While as a leader you may not like conflict, if you’re properly trained to handle and resolve it, you will derive a level of satisfaction from resolving it and will be helping your team and your company work together for a productive and profitable outcome.

And, when you find someone trying to draw you into a conflict situation, maintain your perspective by reminding yourself about the size of the observable universe and the fact that we’re so alone, so we really have no need to be squabbling among ourselves. We should be joining hands to make this planet an even more comfortable and safe home for ourselves and those who will come after us.

That’s what’s meant by leadership with a purpose!

Useful resources:
HR Future
HR Future is South Africa's only independent, most forward thinking human resource magazine with the richest content wealth of HR related issues on the continent of Africa to help executives recruit, manage, train, reward and retain the best talent.
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