September 5, 2012
I found this great post called "How Not to Lead Through Conflict" by Linda Fisher Thornton.
She regularly develops the Leading in Context® publications. I selected this one part of her
post on personal attacks because it is such a common issue in many organizations that does
considerable harm to engagement and integrity.
"Mark Gerzon, in his book, Leading Through Conflict, says that 'In many settings, debate is
disintegrating into little more than verbal brawling in coats and ties.' This kind of conflict is
damaging to companies. It leads to a toxic workplace, where it is hard to get work done and
employees do not feel safe.
What can happen when we allow employees to personally attack each other? When we allow
personal attacks, we are also allowing disrespect. When we allow disrespect, we send a
message that 'anything goes' in making a point. When we send the message that 'anything
goes in making a point' aren’t we encouraging unethical behavior? How much of a stretch is
it from verbally attacking a coworker to other unethical interpersonal behaviors like bullying?"
Tell me what you see in your own organizations and team meetings.