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.

This entry was posted in leadership and tagged , . Bookmark the permalink. Post a comment or leave a trackback: Trackback URL.

Post a Comment

Your email is never published nor shared. Required fields are marked *


You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <s> <strike> <strong>