Lessons About Conflict from the Beautiful Jack Pine Tree

Jack Pine March 20


The beautiful Jack Pine tree of northern Canada has become famous by the hands of Canadian Painter, Tom Thomson.

What you may not know about the Jack Pine tree is that it is very resistant to many forces in nature. It can flourish in harsh conditions and grows in colder climates. Yet, it requires challenging conditions of significant heat to open the pine cone and release its seed. In fact, it experiences rebirth after forest fires – nature’s conflict – as many seeds are released. In other words, through embracing conflict, the Jack Pine thrives.

Like the Jack Pine, teams need to embrace conflict to be successful. I suppose if we gave a human voice to a Jack Pine tree, it might say that it feared being destroyed by fire; yet it is the very thing that can ensure its survival. After all, it’s estimated that conflict costs Canadian organizations over $16.1 Billion per year!

Team members avoid conflict for a multitude of reasons that in their fear-based position make sense, and; in reality, create even more difficulty and strife for them.

Leaders need to learn how to embrace healthy conflict themselves. Many leaders fear conflict might rage like a forest fire and tend to squelch it. Other leaders charge into conflict like a raging fire and also tend to silence the voice of the team. It’s time for Conflict 2.0.

In my work as a Team Dynamics Specialist, it has become crystal clear to me that conflict is the solution. It is merely individuals having different points of view. All are valid, and need to be listened to, and enveloped in curiosity. Simply because within those differences lies the seeds of growth.

If we assumed that all parties in a discussion had important and useful input that when shared and explored could result in even better results would that not reduce the irrational fears that teams typically bring to conflict?

It is high time to explore the conflict in your team and to reap the benefits of that growth through exploring the differences with respect, honour, and curiosity.

To begin the process, it is very helpful to have a coach to lead the way to enable a new culture around differences and to explore the hidden “seeds” of opportunity that your team has been holding in.