My recent article, Grow in Public: Leading Conflict Principle 6, made the argument that a deliberately developmental culture is only made by cultivating deliberately developmental people.

A deliberately developmental organizational culture persistently pushes team members to the edges of their current competencies. By definition, that is not a place where most people feel comfortable. Fear, insecurity, and conflict live in that place. It’s a reach into the unknown.

How do you get your team to go there? The first step is to convince them that no one will be asked to journey alone. You’ll go together.

Here’s one real-life example…


When I began my career as a professional educator and trainer I was young, arrogant and stubborn. Now I’m just arrogant and stubborn.

One day, early in my career, I was co-training a group of professionals with my supervisor. He was an experienced consultant, trainer and a top-shelf presenter. He was a truly gifted speaker and mentor who could work a room like nobody’s business.

During a Q&A session, one of our trainees asked an insightful question about how to give tough feedback without permanently damaging a relationship with a coworker. It was an excellent question. After playing second-fiddle for…


I loved 80’s punk music when I was kid.

Ok, I liked some 90’s punk too. No, I’m not talking about Green Day. American Idiot is still a fun musical though…

Disclaimer: I was never really a punk myself, but I always had a few punk friends in my social periphery as a teenager.

I guess I was kind of a punk tourist, if that’s a thing. After I left the military in the mid-90’s, I found myself sharing rent in several admittedly sketchy collective living situations with lots of real punks.

What’s that like?

Imagine the movie Mad Max


This series of articles explores the toxic behavior profiles that persistently generate workplace conflict and provides tips on how to respond.

In Creative vs. Toxic Conflict at Work, I discussed one of the key features that distinguishes toxic conflict from creative conflict.

Creative conflict is rooted in the dynamics between people. In creative conflict, the motives and goals of group members are typically healthy and focused on a sincere desire to solve concrete external problems and challenges.

Toxic conflict is typically rooted in the personalities of individual people.


Happiness is a feeling. Cheerfulness is a choice… and a weapon.

By cheerfulness, I don’t mean schmaltzy niceties and fake smiles. Real cheerfulness means something much deeper. Cheerfulness is the ability to willingly, even gladly, bear the slings and arrows of life and relationships.

The feeling of happiness comes and goes like weather. Cheerfulness can be deliberately chosen and cultivated as a virtue in leading conflict.

The ability to be willfully cheerful in the face of adversity is a powerful weapon. It’s not a weapon against people. Individual people are never really at the heart of any problem.

Instead, cheerfulness…


I love monster movies. The bigger and meaner the monster, the better the movie.

Alien. Predator. The Stay Puft Marshmallow Man.

But when it comes to on-screen destruction, the undisputed heavyweight champ and model for all monsters that followed is undoubtedly Godzilla.

Behind the cheesy effects and ridiculous rubber monster suits of the 1950’s and 60’s movies, there was a deep commentary on the tenuous nature of life in the atomic age.

Godzilla’s origin story has varied a bit over the years, but it’s usually a nuclear accident or improperly handled radioactive waste that turns an ordinary lizard into a…


This is the first in series of articles covering the central principles of leading conflict in the workplace.

In recent articles, I talked about how to strategize like Ali, tell the difference between creative and toxic conflict, why workplace conflict can be so scary and even how to poke someone in the eye!

But all of those strategies won’t amount to much if you run away from conflict — or, more accurately, the fear that conflict produces.

You must develop the unnatural habit of moving toward fear, not away from it.

Millions of years of human development has ensured that…

John W. Bailie, PhD

President of the IIRP Graduate School, visiting faculty at Columbia University, owner/author of www.leadingconflict.com, and founder of Kookedu Media, LLC.

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