Recently we were working with a corporate client based in Alberta who had a high degree of conflict that had built over time among the c-suite. These folks had a high performing team and a very successful business. Conflict derailed this, and the individuals tried to avoid the conflict, mostly in an attempt to protect the great relationships they previously had. Thanks to some great leadership, we were called in to address this before it started to impact the bottom line. We spent time with the CEO gathering some background, and then offered a few ways forward. Using systems theory and the Thomas-Kilmann conflict model, we gave the team the tools to address their conflict through facilitated 1:1 meetings and facilitated group meetings. Moving forward, the team has the communication and conflict resolution skills to address conflict early, and to use it to their advantage.

There are four factors that influence conflict in teams- access to commodities (such as shared bonus pools), relationships, territory (often where two people have responsibilities for overlapping projects), and principles (such as the way people value work relationships). Knowing the cause of the conflict in this model makes addressing it much more doable.

People’s individual responses to conflict are influenced by their concern for self and their concern for others. Ideally, people will be high in concern for self, and high in concern for others. Collaboration is where we find non-zero-sum solutions that drive a business forward.


Knowing your conflict style, and the style of your fellow team members can go a long way to resolving conflict in a way that strengthens the team and enhances the bottom line.