Facing Conflict with No Role Power (What is it you really want?)

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Facing Conflict with No Role Power

As an informal software engineering leader, you’ll have plenty of opportunities to experience conflict.

Estimates, priorities, architectural decisions, root cause analysis … In every one of those situations, people from different perspectives come with strong opinions. And many of those people also come with a bit of a salty or spiky personality. Tempers can flare, armor goes up, and the challenge of ideas turns into a battle of wills.

When that happens, it’s tempting to wish you could be the boss, a benevolent dictator, and just decree which direction the team should go.

Let me encourage you instead to pause and consider what it is that you really want to accomplish in that interaction.

❓Is it to position yourself as a subject matter expert?

❓Is it to avoid overburdening your team?

❓Is it to prevent a feared disaster?

❓Is it to coax someone else to change their beliefs or behavior?

Next, consider whether that is the most appropriate objective for your current discussion. If not, choose something else that you really want to accomplish.

Make it clear to the other participants what is most important to you, and what you’re willing to give up in order to accomplish that primary purpose.

Then, seek to understand what other people most want out of the discussion, and what they’re willing to give up.

There may still be times you do need someone with role power to play the role of a tiebreaker, but you’ll often find that your key objectives don’t conflict with each other as much as you thought they might, and sharing those goals transparently will help you find a better solution than anyone had proposed yet.

If you find yourself regularly in these conflicts and you’re having trouble uncovering what you really want, let’s talk. Visit https://stevedwire.com/connect for a complimentary conversation.

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