Conflict Resolution at Work:
What’s Your Goal?

Conflict-Resolution-at-WorkDiverse perspectives are beneficial for organizations. They challenge tunnel vision and the status quo, and promote learning and innovation. When issues are constructively debated, new solutions emerge. But too often I have seen organizations with opposing points of view turn to unhealthy conflict. What’s worse, many leaders are ill-prepared for effective conflict resolution.

I wrote about this in my last post, here. Conflict resolution is one of the most misunderstood and often avoided aspects of leadership. I have seen too many leaders fail to address conflict properly, if at all, which results in varying levels of disruption, disunity, lowered morale and diminished productivity. That’s why resolving conflict effectively and positively is critical for success.

With a dual approach to conflict, where measures are taken to minimize conflict triggers and mitigate conflict once it becomes apparent, everyone benefits.

When working with opposing points of view there are a number of potential outcomes, but only one is beneficial for all:

  • If you concede to one party, the imbalance will make short life of any peace you establish. This kind of peace is likely in appearance only.
  • If you avoid the issues at hand and mandate a resolution, everyone loses. The result may be a conflict worse than the original, and your efforts will fare worse than doing nothing.
  • If you require the parties compete for a win, this also establishes a worse scenario in the long run. The conflict is only inflamed.
  • If you have the parties compromise, which is a partial concession, the peace may last a while, but compromises are soon resented. The conflict typically ends up where it started, this time with an additional issue.
  • The most effective approach is to collaborate and come to a resolution where both sides achieve a sense of win. If both sides can agree to make similar adjustments or concessions, they will have a sense of cooperation and success. The solution is found in the middle ground, where both sides come toward it and meet there.

As a leader, your role is to facilitate a civil collaboration and resolve the conflict with the most agreeable solution. This is a significant skill that many leaders haven’t developed.

The power of conflict resolution is not to decree a fix, but to guide both parties to devise a solution they can live with.

This approach establishes you as a trusted coach, mediator and advocate for each side.

What do you think? What is your approach to effective conflict resolution? I’d love to hear from you. You can call me at 704-827-4474; let’s talk. And as always, I can be reached here or on LinkedIn.

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Conflict Resolution:
How the Best Leaders Measure-up

Resolve-ConflictWhen I see conversations escalate into conflict, I don’t have to look far to see competition, egos and rivalries in action.

That’s not to say that competition is a bad thing; far from it. Innovation and positive change often begin with those who refuse to “go along to get along.” But when healthy debate turns into a power struggle, finding a solution loses focus and winning the point becomes the goal.

The best leaders understand this. They are prepared with a dual approach to conflict resolution:  they take measures to minimize conflict triggers and mitigate conflict once it becomes apparent.

Understanding Conflict

It’s human nature to want to defend and win an argument. When we filter incoming information through the lens of what we believe and want, empathy and insight are tossed aside.  We categorize others as the enemy, who must be wrong. Our debate turns to conflict: opposition put into action.

The most common way opposition surfaces is in written form. Email and memo wars are prevalent, where chains of conflict can take on a life of their own, dragging bystanders down with them.

Conflict also takes on a verbal form, where arguments not only disrupt the work of those arguing, but interfere with the work of everyone within earshot.

And then there are physical conflicts. Physical combatants require immediate action per law, and your company disciplinary policies.

When competition interferes with the ability to complete assignments, it becomes a breeding ground for conflict. Competing priorities and action plans are a prime example. Employees may be put in competition for budgets, time, people or potential rewards. Leaders who can level the priority and resource playing field demonstrate that people are the priority. When they accommodate the overall needs of the team as amiably as possible, they avoid unmerited competitions and the conflict that follows.

Another cause of employee conflict is poor communication. Conflict is sure to appear if people don’t feel informed, or they are not sure of what is expected of them. Speculation and rumors create uncertainty, which can trigger anxiety and elevate conflict. A culture of communication and transparency minimizes gaps in information. Make it your policy to keep people informed and involved in the activity of the organization. Being truthful, without holding back bad news, will earn you trust and greatly minimize conflict.

Unfair treatment and/or lack of equal opportunities are another cause for conflict between coworkers. When people believe that they’re left out, unappreciated or not important, it sets-up resentments, rivalries and conflict.  Leaders with awareness and engagement skills create a supportive, understanding and inclusive work environment with equal treatment and consideration that prevents the kind of insecurities that can breed conflict.

What do you think? What events trigger conflict in your organization? I’d love to hear from you. You can call me at 704-827-4474; let’s talk. And as always, I can be reached here or on LinkedIn.

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Do You Have Genuine Leadership Humility?

No-Excuse-Leadership-HumilityDo you have genuine leadership humility ?

This has been a frequent topic in leadership development discussions. It seems we’ve gotten ourselves stuck in a focus on “me”, rather than “we.” To shift this mindset, humility must become a more popular leadership practice. Read More »

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Genuine Leadership Humility:
Conversations Matter!

Leadership-Humility-Conversations-MatterWhen it comes to genuine leadership humility, conversations matter!

When I talk with my coaching clients on this subject, I find that many leaders still believe workplace humility is a detriment, not an advantage. Some believe that authority, power and even intimidation are best to run organizations and achieve results. Being understood is more important than understanding—at least, that’s the message they are sending to others. Read More »

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What is Genuine Leadership Humility?

Genuine-Leadership-HumilityI’ve been writing on the topic of genuine leadership humility—but what, exactly, is it?

True humility is a response of noble character, based on a choice to regard the needs of others ahead of one’s own. At its heart, humility is characterized by a desire to serve and dedication to bettering others. It isn’t something you’re born with, yet you can acquire it through practicing the right behaviors. Read More »

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Genuine Leadership Humility:
The Key for Our Future

Leadership-Humility-KeyIt’s rare to find leaders with enough self-confidence to be humble, but when I hear about a company that has undergone transformation to become top-performing, know what I typically find? Genuine leadership humility. Read More »

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The Unmitigated Power of Leadership Humility

Power-of-Leadership-HumilityIt seems to me that we’re living in an era of self-celebration and those who often make the most noise get the attention. And it’s really no surprise: today’s leaders face innumerable challenges with employee disengagement, cloud-based speed of commerce, political correctness, cultural diversity, social sensitivities and a hyper-focus on efficiency. Pressure to succeed is higher than ever. Leaders know they must have an A-game, and they continually encounter methods that experts claim will improve proficiencies. Read More »

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How Great Leaders Express Anger

Great-Leaders-Express-Anger-EffectivelyHow do the best leaders manage anger? Maybe a better question is, how do great leaders express anger in an effective way?

I’ve been writing about this in recent posts. Leaders who are prone to anger can be the most destructive: each year, millions of employees unable to endure their leader’s anger either disengage from their jobs or leave entirely. Read More »

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How the Best Leaders Manage Anger

Great-Leaders-Manage-AngerAnger isn’t all bad. Consider how it compels us to take action, and has allowed the human species to survive. But anger isn’t always helpful, or healthy. The best leaders know how to manage anger. Read More »

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Leaders Prone To Anger

Leaders-Prone-to-AngerAre you prone to anger? I wouldn’t be surprised to hear you reply yes; leaders who are prone to anger are one of the most reported problems in the workplace. Unfortunately, it can also be the most destructive. Each year, employees unable to endure their leader’s anger either disengage from their jobs or leave entirely. Read More »

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