Resolving Conflict-It’s Not about Winning


“Peace is not absence of conflict, it is the ability to handle conflict by peaceful means.” —Ronald Reagan

By Elizabeth Stincelli, DM


What Causes Conflict and How Do We Resolve It?

Conflict is the mental struggle that arises when our ideas, needs, wishes, or demands are in opposition to those of others. Conflict is inevitable when you bring people together from different beliefs and backgrounds. When we spend time in conflict with each other we are wasting energy and destroying any sense of camaraderie. Conflict does not resolve itself and only escalates if not addressed. Unresolved conflict can result in the loss of productivity, cooperation, collaboration, and creativity. Let’s look a little deeper at some of the factors that cause conflict and how we can resolve them.

Cognitive bias

Cognitive biases are thinking errors that impact how we interpret the world around us. These biases often occur when we try to over-simplify how we process information. Biases cause irrational thinking and affect our ability to make sound decisions.

Biases can influence in simple ways such allowing the way you currently feel to color the way you interpret the world around you. They can permit your judgment to become dependent on previously provided evidence with little regard for new evidence. You may have the tendency to listen only to information that confirms your preconceived beliefs or to interpret information in a way that confirms these beliefs. Your expectations could be unconsciously influencing how you perceive the outcome of interactions. It is also easy to let ourselves get caught up in group think and adopt the beliefs of others without proper evaluation.

When we experience a cognitive bias it impairs our ability to rationally interpret information and experiences. It is easy to fail to recognize and compensate for our own biases. We must be aware of these biases and how they impact our thinking in order to prevent and resolve the conflict they may cause.


Conflict often arises when we assume all parties are talking about the same thing. Often we find that each participant to a conversation has their own definitions and meanings which are not in agreement with each other. In order to eliminate ambiguity we must come to the same understanding, with the same definitions and meanings by asking open-ended questions which you do not have preconceived answers for. Listen with the intent of gaining an understanding of how other parties perceive the situation.

Many times conflict involves the perception we have of the role we play in a group differing from how others see it. Conflict becomes more likely when we are operating under different assumptions about our roles and responsibilities than those we work with. Clear, written communication can be effective at keeping ambiguity to a minimum. Make sure you know what the conflict you are experiencing is really about. Work together to assign clear roles, define reality, and eliminate ambiguity.


The most successful approach to resolving conflict is open, two-way communication. In order to communicate effectively you must learn to listen without passing judgment. Each party to the communication will apply their own definitions and meanings; therefore, you can’t just listen to the facts. You have to ask probing questions and come to a consensus on the definition and meaning of the facts. Also, don’t just listen to others to figure out how you can get them to agree with your point of view. Listen to really understand and appreciate their reality so you can understand where they are coming from.

Be clear and consistent with communication from the very beginning of the relationship. Ask questions and keep an open mind. Talk through and test the feasibility of proposed solutions together. Prepare in advance for difficult conversations. Define how you see the problem. What points do you think are important? Come prepared to propose possible solutions. Make sure your message is clear and concise. When working to resolve conflict, watch the tone and language that you use and keep your emotions out of the discussion. Be an active listener and show yourself to be transparent and trustworthy. Focus on mending relationships before turning your focus to tasks.

Spanning boundaries

To resolve conflict we must learn to build bridges between management, employees, suppliers, and customers. We must develop strong relationships between people with differing beliefs, experience, and knowledge. By clarifying the role that each individual plays and the purpose of the team you can capitalize on the power that individual differences bring to the table.

Establish commonality by creating a shared vision, building trust, and coming together to achieve a higher purpose. Co-create something greater than could be achieved individually by combining a shared vision and strategy with the expertise, resources, and experiences of each individual. Span boundaries by accepting and appreciating the diversity that builds a great team.

It’s Not about Winning

Conflict is inevitable. It’s usually rooted in poor communication and the inability to control our emotions. When working to resolve conflict, listen with the intent of developing a connection, not to merely respond. Don’t communicate with the goal of getting the other person to agree with your point of view; communicate to bring differing points of view together to co-create something that is new.

When dealing with conflict, keep your emotions in check and maintain moral high ground. You do not have the power to change others so you may have to look at ways you can change your approach to managing relationships to avoid and resolve conflict. Conflict can be about bringing differing opinions together and co-creating something fantastic. Don’t think of resolving conflict in terms of winning. It’s not about seeking to defeat an enemy but about finding common ground for cooperation, compromise, and collaboration.

© 2014 Elizabeth Stincelli


Elizabeth Stincelli is passionate about recognizing and inspiring the leader in each of us. She is the CEO of Stincelli Advisors where she focuses on helping organizations engage employees and improve organizational culture. Elizabeth holds a Doctor of Management degree with an emphasis on organizational leadership.

Learn more about Elizabeth by visiting her website, and connect with her on Twitter @infinitestin, Google+, and LinkedIn. You can contact her by email at


So, You’re a New Leader


So, You’re a New Leader

“The task of the leader is to get his people from where they are to where they have not been.” —Henry A. Kissinger

By Elizabeth Stincelli, DM


 A New Leader

So, you’ve been promoted into a leadership position. While, as the leader, you are now responsible to plan and direct the actions of those you lead, more importantly, you must learn to inspire and empower them. You are now under the scrutiny of your new team. They want to know if you are worthy to be followed. It’s up to you to earn their trust and respect. They are going to be looking to you to provide a sense of purpose that each of them can buy into.

        What Now?

Are you prepared to lead? One of the very first things you must do as a new leader is to determine where you’re starting from, where you need to be going, and the obstacles you may face. You need to learn how things really work on the front lines so you will be better prepared provide direction and make decisions. You need to get to know your team and earn their respect. Here are some starting points for your leadership journey.


Followers need to know that you believe in yourself. This is not arrogance but confidence. Do your homework; make sure that when you speak you know what you are talking about and then trust yourself and your judgment. Set out on a quest to continually gain new knowledge and experiences. Show followers that you are competent to lead. Live your life as an example that you can be proud of.

               Establish a foundation

Establish a solid foundation of principles, expectations, and values. Develop and clearly demonstrate through your words and actions a shared purpose and vision. Provide meaningful work where followers can take pride in their contributions. Demonstrate the authenticity of your intentions through transparent and open communication.

Develop a culture that values consistent behavior, the sharing of knowledge, and encourages collaboration. Put the right people in the right roles and show a commitment helping them become successful. Commit to quality and set up measures to monitor results. Ask great questions and really listen to the answers. Foster an environment of strong relationships, teamwork, and collaboration.


Be supportive of your employees. Clearly outline your expectations and give them the opportunity to come up with their own ideas rather than you dictating what they should do. Value each member of your team for what they can contribute not for their position. Remember, you don’t have all the answers so trust the knowledge and skills of your team members. Engage and encourage each of your followers to participate in the leadership of the organization. Help followers to continue to develop personally and professionally.

Encourage your team to challenge the status quo with innovative thinking. Urge team members to voice differing perspectives, not for conflict, but to improve performance. Encourage team members to connect authentically and show them how by the example you set. Form a diverse team to ensure a continual supply of new perspectives. Emphasize accountability and ownership. Give credit to team members where and when it is due.


Your character will play a pivotal role in your success or failure as a leader. Make sure your service is focused on others and not self-serving. Know what you stand for and why. Be committed to your values and principles. Always be authentic. Lead with purpose and compassion. Demonstrate patience and strength under pressure.

Build deep and meaningful relationships with those you work with. Show everyone they matter by giving them your time and making them feel valued. Show them that you recognize and appreciate their efforts. Demonstrate your competence. Do what others won’t and be willing to roll up your sleeves and get your hands dirty. Be courageous and embrace the lessons that failure has to offer. Show humility. Be fair and consistent in your leadership. Be a good listener. Always practice what you preach. And, strive to inspire and motivate those around you.


Lead for the right reasons. If your intentions are not authentic your employees will quickly see through the façade and you will lose their trust and respect. Lead not for the benefits to you personally but to leave a legacy through the lives you have impacted. Be a compassionate leader. Share your wisdom. Help others grow and reach their full potential. Share and grow your vision. Always stand by your principles. Inspire all who come in contact with you. Serve to encourage and lift others through inspiration and hope.


As a new leader you must determine where your team is, where they are going, and how they are going to get there. You need a strong vision for the future that your team can support. If you always put the needs of your team before your own they will become your loyal supporters. Don’t lead for the sake of the position; take this new opportunity to make a difference in the lives of those you work with. Leadership is a journey, not a destination.



© 2014 Elizabeth Stincelli


Elizabeth Stincelli is passionate about recognizing and inspiring the leader in each of us. She is the CEO of Stincelli Advisors where she focuses on helping organizations engage employees and improve organizational culture. Elizabeth holds a Doctor of Management degree with an emphasis on organizational leadership.

Learn more about Elizabeth by visiting her website, and connect with her on Twitter @infinitestin, Google+, and LinkedIn. You can contact her by email at


The Key to Continued Success: Innovation


The Key to Continued Success: Innovation

“Learning and innovation go hand in hand. The arrogance of success is to think that what you did yesterday will be sufficient for tomorrow.” —William Pollard

By Elizabeth Stincelli, DM


It would be foolish to think that we can continue to be successful by doing the same things tomorrow that we did yesterday. Innovation allows us to create something new that meets an unmet need and provides value. The responsibility for innovating cannot be placed on a few, select individuals; innovation has to be everyone’s job.

How Do We Create It?

Innovation takes the effort of the whole organization. When you take all the small ideas that employees have to offer and combine them, you often come up with one, great idea. To capitalize on this one great idea, we must give valid consideration to every idea. Successful innovation requires the igniting of passion throughout the organization. The focus should be the customers, both internal and external, that we serve. Let’s create an environment that encourages innovation.


What type of culture fosters innovation? It is up to organizational leaders to create and maintain a culture where innovation can thrive. One of the most important features of this type of culture is an emphasis on learning. The organization should encourage and facilitate the process of continual self-improvement for employees. The culture should emphasize the importance of purposefully creating a new future. There should be a shared definition of innovation throughout the organization. The focus must be on continuous improvement and the prevention and solving of problems. To come up with useful, innovative ideas, employees need to be given time to become familiar with the needs of the customer. They need the opportunity and resources to experiment with ideas.


What do principles have to do with innovation? Innovation does not happen overnight. It’s about thinking long-term and requires focused commitment. A shared vision will guide innovation towards the achievement of organizational objectives. The vision should clearly outline our principles and our principles should guide our innovative efforts. Strong principles allow us to challenge the status quo while remaining true to the strategic direction of the organization.


How do relationships impact our ability to innovate? Camaraderie between team members is the result of healthy relationships. These strong relationships allow us to work together to connect and combine ideas. Relationships with both internal and external customers are developed when we create exceptional interactions with them. It is essential that we develop mutual trust and confidence in each other. People who feel inspired are more committed and will go the extra mile to help the organization succeed. Every employee should strive to inspire those around them.


How does our attitude affect our ability to innovate effectively? Attitude has a huge impact on innovation. We need to be open-minded and receptive to new experiences, ideas, and perspectives. We must be willing to tackle the difficult issues. We should find inspiration in the challenge. We must keep a positive and collaborative attitude even during disagreements.


What sort of behaviors increase the odds for successful innovation? The only way to get good ideas is to get a lot of ideas without judgment. These ideas can be evaluated for usefulness later. Employees must be encouraged to experiment with new ideas and concepts. They should be allowed to let ideas evolve and grow over time. We need to explore a wide range of solutions. The focus needs to be on outcomes and making sure everyone involved knows the vision, strategic goals, and desired results. There should be a healthy tension between where you are and where you are going. This tension should ignite passion but not competition.


Will what you did yesterday be sufficient for tomorrow? The answer is no. Long-term success goes to the organization where innovation is built into the culture. The truth is, you must learn to innovate or you will become obsolete. You never know where the next great idea will come from. So, create a culture that fosters innovation and involves every employee in the process.

© 2014 Elizabeth Stincelli


Elizabeth Stincelli is passionate about recognizing and inspiring the leader in each of us. She is the CEO of Stincelli Advisors where she focuses on helping organizations engage employees and improve organizational culture. Elizabeth holds a Doctor of Management degree with an emphasis on organizational leadership.

Learn more about Elizabeth by visiting her website, and connect with her on Twitter @infinitestin, Google+, and LinkedIn. You can contact her by email at


Let’s Collaborate


Let’s Collaborate

“If you have an apple and I have an apple and we exchange these apples, then you and I will still each have one apple. But if you have an idea and I have an idea and we exchange these ideas, then each of us will have two ideas.” —George Bernard Shaw

By Elizabeth Stincelli, DM



Collaboration brings us together to work towards a shared objective. If we can collaborate effectively we increase our chances for success. Collaborating with others offers us the opportunity to be part of something larger than ourselves.

We can achieve more together than the sum of what we can achieve individually. Successful collaboration creates win-win situations where all parties benefit. People are most productive and satisfied at work when they feel supported, rewarded, and aligned with the work they are doing. Effective collaboration puts the right people in right roles and provides them with the voice, support, and encouragement needed to be successful. Here are a few factors impact your odds of collaborating successfully.


The culture of your organization will either foster or destroy collaboration. The culture should promote the attitude that there is always something new to be discovered. You never know where the next great idea will come from. A healthy culture encourages employees to ask questions. It challenges employees to wonder what might be possible if we work together. Collaboration helps us to feel energized and connected as we work in a team environment. Develop a culture that engages employees to participate in collaboration without competing with each other. Encourage the development of the authentic connections between colleagues that builds a sense of community. Promote a culture that encourages and rewards collaboration and advances a shared vision to guide collaborative efforts.


Successful collaboration is dependent on building strong, authentic relationships. These relationships allow us to influence and inspire others. Get to know colleagues on a personal basis. Always treat each other with respect. Use your relationships to develop a spirit of cooperation and offer encouragement and support.


Communication connects us with others and is a key factor in effective collaboration. Communication should always be respectful. In a collaborative environment people should be given a voice to express themselves in a constructive manner. Encourage others to ask questions and challenge the status quo. Clearly communicate shared goals and objectives. Resolve disagreements quickly and in a respectful manner. And, remember to express appreciation for the contributions of team members.


Trust is an important component of any successful collaboration. The collaborative environment must reduce the fear of judgment that hinders participation and productivity. Develop an atmosphere that encourages others to share ideas in a safe and respectful environment. Show compassion for colleagues. Set an example of how to treat others and how to work together effectively. Treat colleagues as equals. Develop a code of conduct so that situations are handled consistently and fair.


To collaborate effectively the team should focus on cooperation and developing connections between members. Every participant should be encouraged to bring the best of themselves to the table. To be successful, teams should focus their energy on outcomes not problems. Create a Collaborative environment with shared objectives that focus on what’s best for the organization as a whole.


You must build collaboration into the culture of your organization. The culture should empower individuals to work together to accomplish more than would be possible if they were working alone. A positive, collaborative environment encourages team members to share opinions and ideas, promotes cooperation, and develops strategic partnerships.

When we work together we can accomplish more that we ever could working individually. When we join forces we all win. Now, everyone, roll up your sleeves and let’s collaborate.


© 2014 Elizabeth Stincelli


Healthy Culture=Happy Employees


Healthy Culture=Happy Employees

“To make customers happy, we have to make sure our employees are happy first.” —Zappos

By Elizabeth Stincelli, DM

Healthy Culture
Employees don’t want to work for an organization where the culture feels oppressive, unwelcoming, and cold. If you want to move forward as an organization then you need every employee to work together to achieve shared objectives. The key lies in developing a culture where employees want to work together. The culture that you, as a leader, develop affects the behavior, performance, and decision making of your employees. Build a culture that bonds employees together in a spirit of loyalty and commitment to the organization. A healthy culture will result in happy employees.

How does trust play into a healthy culture? Trust provides the foundation from which you build all relationships. A healthy culture enhances the ability of employees to develop the trusting relationships which improve team effectiveness and productivity. Show your employees by the example that you set that you trust them and are deserving of their trust. Be consistent. Consistency helps employees to trust management because they know what to expect.

How does this contribute to happy employees? When employees feel there is mutual trust they are more likely to feel content. When you show your employees that you trust their judgment and ability to perform you raise their confidence and job satisfaction levels. Happy employees trust that their work environment is safe, stable, and that they know what to expect from their leaders.

What role does engagement play in a healthy culture? A healthy culture offers employees a sense of purpose and encourages them to challenge the status quo. Engagement helps employees to feel they are an important part of a team. A culture that encourages employee engagement offers challenges, allows employees to have control over their work tasks, and gives them the opportunity to continue to develop their knowledge and skills.

How does this contribute to happy employees? Engagement inspires and energizes employees. When you, as a leader, are approachable and responsive employee engagement skyrockets. When employees feel fully engaged they become emotionally committed to working hard in the best interest of the organization. When employees enjoy their work and the environment they work in they are more loyal, innovative, and provide better customer service.

What role does empowerment play in a healthy culture? Gone are the days of employees who are content to work like mindless robots. Employees want to be heard. They want a say in how the organization they work for is run and the freedom to design their work, their way. Empowerment gives employees the autonomy they desire. As a leader, you must involve employees in developing solutions to organizational problems and give them power over the implementation process. A healthy culture allows employees to help set team goals and participate in making team decisions.

How does this contribute to happy employees? Happy employees are respected for their great ideas. They are empowered by being offered discretion, control, and independence over their work. They believe that their work is important and has meaning. They are treated as competent to perform well and know their actions and decisions matter. They are encouraged to be active participants in the success of the organization.

How does inspiration play into a healthy culture? When employees feel inspired by those who lead them they become fully engaged in the organization. A healthy culture inspires employee through the development of shared trust, values, and purpose. By developing and maintaining a culture designed around trusting relationships you can inspire individuals to collaborate, share knowledge, and innovate. Inspire employees through your words and actions so they know exactly why they want work for you.

How does this contribute to happy employees? Happy employees are inspired to become the best that they can be. They become passionate and committed to the team they serve. Employees who are inspired by an optimistic and confident leader are happy to share that inspiration with others.

How does communication lead to a healthy culture? Employees want to know where the organization is going, what does the future look like, how they contribute, and why it’s important. Develop a culture where objectives and expectations are clearly communicated. A healthy culture has systems in place to keep employees informed of what is happening in the organization and for expressing appreciation to employees for their contributions.

How does this contribute to happy employees? Happy employees feel acknowledged for the vital role they play in the success of the organization. When you, as a leader communicate openly with employees they feel respected. Give specific compliments. Communicate a specific and consistent vision. Happy employees are engaged in conversations about their goals and aspirations. They feel they are really being heard and allowed to participate in formulating solutions to problems.

What role does opportunity play in a healthy culture? Times have changed; employees have become more educated and skilled. They want the opportunity to participate in the leadership and decision-making process of the organization. High performing employees expect the opportunity to be independent. A healthy culture creates opportunities for growth. This type of culture encourages investment in employees and offers challenging and purposeful work.

How does this contribute to happy employees? Happy employees find their work fulfilling and meaningful. They are encouraged to bring their passion and new ideas to the table. They are given the opportunity to learn and contribute on an on-going basis.

Share in success
How does sharing in success contribute to a healthy culture? When employees share in the success of the organization they are willing to invest more and more of themselves. A healthy culture eliminates the attitude of us versus them and shares successes as a whole.

How does this contribute to happy employees? Happy employees feel like they are have ownership in the organization and are not just employees. Having a vested interest in the success of the organization increases employee job satisfaction and productivity. Sharing successes as a team develops a sense of community and belonging.

Happy Employees
You get twice the productivity from happy employees. You have lower levels of employee turnover. Your employees are more energized and take less sick days. Happy employees also treat each other and your customers better.

Healthy Culture=Happy Employees
Look at your culture from the perspective of your employees because their perceptions of the culture you are developing impacts the satisfaction they receive from their jobs. If you want happy employees your culture should encourage the development of relationships built on mutual trust. A healthy culture also emphasizes the value of the contributions made by employees and focuses on engagement and empowerment.

Happy employees are led by an inspirational leader who communicates openly and respectfully. A healthy culture with happy employees offers abundant opportunities to employees for participation and personal growth. Successes are shared throughout the organization. As a leader, it is your responsibility to develop a culture that brings out the best in your employees. The healthy culture you create will result in happy employees who are committed to the success of the organization.

© 2014 Elizabeth Stincelli