Good leaders know that healthy debate and opposition are essential when making important decisions. However, conflict in and of itself does not lead to better decisions and can sometimes reduce commitment from those who walk away from the debate on the "losing" side. How, then, can leaders achieve a level of conflict that will enhance the quality of their decisions, while ensuring that everyone is on board with the final outcome? Taking care to set up the right decision-making process is the key.
The next time you need to cultivate constructive conflict without sacrificing the commitment of influential team members, remember to consider these 4 critical elements of your decision process:
- Who should participate in the decision-making process? Will the decision-making team be made up of only high-level executives and experts or will input from multiple levels of the organization be valuable?
- Under what context will the decision be made? Consider minimizing differences in organizational status or rank among group members to encourage more open and honest communication.
- How will the team communicate? Forming subgroups within the team can help generate alternatives and lead to more dynamic and thorough discussions.
- How will you, as leader, control the decision process? How much will you be involved in the process and how will the final decision be made? Will you make the final decision on your own or facilitate a compromise?