Chapter 8–Conflict and Growth

September 10th, 2020 ~ I attended the first of 4 classes of a course on Mindfulness in the Workplace.  It is based on Marc Lesser’s book “7 Practices of a Mindful Leader.”  I began to journal–that was one of the assignments along with reading the first part of the book.  I am quite familiar with the content since much of it is similar to the content on this blog site.  There is a nice collection of Buddhist concepts in it.  Marc is not afraid to use Buddhist terms.  Many mindful programs have taken them out.  Not that that is wrong.  

One of the things that is challenging for me  is looking for the heart or warmth, especially at the beginning.  Maybe that is because at times,  I have a hard time being kind to myself.  I lead with my logical mind, which can lead to confusion and hurt feelings.  This is another area that Marc Lesser does well, leading with the heart.  I notice that the Dalai Lama always begins with kindness and morality–that we have change now and act as one.  The old way of doing things can’t be done anymore.  One of the things that is coming up is how race relations is in the forefront.  I have listened to Dharma talks, psychology encounter groups and training, and more.  People are upset.    In Zen & Creative Management, there is a Chapter called “Conflict and Growth.”  I haven’t got to it yet in the blog, but I thought I would put a post up.  Some of these conflicts I was mentioning earlier are now coming to the forefront even thought they have been there all along.  As Krishnamurti would say, this is a fact, not a problem that has to be gotten over.  It is a fact and can we see it as a fact.  If we see it as a fact, it will flower and wither away.

In the chapter, Albert Low talks about there being “3 forms of conflict, one of which is productive and two non-productive.  Prior to going into this, he writes about an article that he believes is off-base.  It comes from an article entitled “Coping with Organizational Conflict”.  It stated: “Organizational problems and conflict develop “not because people are malicious (at least not often), but because varying life experiences have equipped all of us to see, feel, and appraise things more or less differently–inevitably producing conflict, stress and often negative relationships.” 

In Albert Low’s view, (and some of this is paraphrasing)  productive conflict comes from the nature of organization itself.  Non-productive conflict arises either through poorly delegated work or through personality defects; the latter is probably much less frequent than managers would ever believe.  Conflict in businesses:

  1. Productive~ It comes from the nature of organization itself.
  2. Non-Productive~ it has to do with Delegation.
  3. and Personality Defects

In the earlier chapters, I believe the “tension” inherent in business is discussed.  In the mindfulness class I am taking, there is what is called a “Creative Gap”–where we are vs where we want to be.  Maybe this is related to the tension that exists in businesses.  Albert Low talks about a healthy tension between departments that is necessary.  We’ll talk more about productive conflict in another post.  However, it is important to be able to identify this type of tension and not try to stifle it.  Let’s assume that the 3rd conflict is in fact less common than is previously thought and focus on the 2nd conflict which is Poor Delegation.  

Now, I don’t want to go too far down the rabbit hole because I am not an organizational consultant.   I feel my way through things, but it takes me a while to get my head around it, not that I want to label myself.   Low says that pure delegation is rarely done.   “Consequently, positions are split, and overlaps, duplications, omissions, and so on occur….Because managers have been trained to believe that all anxiety is neurotic, that human beings stop growing at about the age of sixteen, and because, in any case, the univalent view provides a simple either/or solution, the conflict is suppressed.”

He goes on in the next paragraph: “Instead of suppressing conflicts, specific channels could be created to make this conflict explicit, and specific methods could be set up by which the conflict is resolved.  Out of this growth could arise.  Unresolved conflict, on the other hand, will lead to frustration and hostility, and this in turn will tend to emphasize individual differences, personality defects, and, consequently, bring to the fore interpersonal hostility.  Executives at the upper levels “tend to abhor open confrontation of conflict and emotions, and are almost completely unaware of ways in which to obtain genuine employee commitment to the organization.  This results in upper-level systems in which there is a higher proportion of conforming, mistrust, antagonism, defensiveness, closedness, than of individuality, trust, concern and openness.  Managers who do not want to face up to the conflict inherent in work delegation, therefore exhort subordinates to “think of the well-being of the company as a whole” and insist that “we are all members of one great team and therefore should be willing to suppress our individual differences.”  

Which leads me to the sentence from the chapter that I probably should have led with: “This is solving conflict in a non-creative way, in an old-man’s way. (most likely White)  “Subordinates who insist upon attempting to realize the potential inherent in their position–they are invariably the most conscientious people with the greatest integrity–are frowned upon.  They, in turn, become guilt-ridden because they cannot fit in and equally guilt-ridden because they are forced to stand by while valuable potential is lost.”  Btw, if you have a chance, search the term “guilt” on this blog and you will find a plethora of material and what to do about it.

This book was written back in the late 1970’s.  I believe it is relevant today.  I don’t work in a large business.  My area of interest in small business, but Albert Low’s model works for businesses of all sizes.  It seems to me that poor delegation is still an issue.  What do you think?  So, poor delegation.  Please stay tuned and read more about this book.  I think it will become  more apparent what poor delegation looks like within the structure of a business as well as the process.  




As in most posts on, italicization of words refers to the words of either Jiddu Krishnamurti or Albert Low.  The website writer’s words are in regular text.

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