Today’s business leaders are searching for ways to reduce interpersonal conflict and to create the type of organizational health that delivers sustainable business results.  There has been plenty written in the past decade regarding the importance of organizational health and it’s correlation to results.  Just pick up Pat Lencioni’s most recent book, The Advantage. In the title Pat’s states that organizational health trumps everything else.

Although I agree with Pat, one basic concept that doesn’t seem to be getting much attention is the cost of second hand conflict on organizational health and sustainable successful results.

What I find interesting is that many individuals naively believe that their one-on-one conflicts occur in a vacuum.  They seldom recognize the detrimental effect these conflicts have on other team members.  In addition, they can minimize the negative impact it can have on the organization’s overall health and it’s ability to deliver sustainable performance.

Many conflicts often spill over and create additional conflicts within an organization?  We have seen that there is often measurable collateral damage that occurs from what one would like to think of as an isolated conflict.  We have also seen entire offices become aware of a private “performance related discussions” between a manager and his or her direct report?  These conversations can result in lost productivity and decreased morale as people debate the appropriateness of a manager’s actions.

We are all connected. We carry what happens in one interaction into the interactions and conversations that we have for the rest of the day or potentially the week.  We intuitively know that every interaction has the potential to either build equity in a relationship or to tear it down.  What is becoming more apparent, however, is how each particular interaction can also contribute to the health or deterioration of an entire team or organization.  Nothing we do can be truly compartmentalized.

We heard from one coach regarding how his heated interactions, with the officials on the sidelines, sent ripples throughout his team. These interactions impacted their performance during a crucial playoff game and they lost this game.

In today’s culture of reduced civility, people are often fairly quick to say something bad about others.  Let’s face it, all of us are less than perfect and everyday we make mistakes. It isn’t too hard to find fault in another’s behavior.  Add to this the fact that we also view everyone’s behaviors through our own filters.  It wouldn’t take too long in my day to notice that I forgot to do something or didn’t live up to a commitment I made to someone. I guess you could say I would deserve the intense criticisms that could come along with my unintentional oversights.

Sometimes a simple miscommunication can result in someone questioning his or her ability or worth to an organization.  One of our clients recently shared how he missed a meeting where a decision was made to change a process. Before he became aware of the change it was implemented and he was beginning to question his value to the team and his approach. Luckily his manager caught this oversight and explained the decision that had been made and the why. Once explained it made perfect sense and additional conflict was avoided.

How we handle each of our day-to-day interactions can positively or negatively impact the individuals we interact with and possibly our entire organization.  What we encourage you to consider, is how your one-on-one interactions may be impacting the rest of your organization?

The comment we often hear is that it sounds simple but what does it look like in action. The answer is also simple yet extremely difficult to accomplish. It relates back to the HEART of the leader.

We define HEART as follows:


Emotional Intelligence



Teachable Spirit

Stayed turned to learn what makes up each component of HEART. We will also discuss how to bring more HEART into your interactions helping  you develop a healthy organization that produces sustainable success.