Conflict Management

“Dialogue is the most effective way of resolving conflict.” – Tenzin Gyatso, the 14th Dalai Lama

Conflict Management Overview

Leaders often encounter conflict situations in their position. Sometimes it may seem like there is continual conflict. Conflict is sometimes indicative of deeper issues that may need to be addressed. Conflict can be destructive, costly, and even effect those who are simply observing the conflict situation. A small level of conflict may be healthy if it brings about discussion about an issue or problem. Conflict can occur between team members, other leaders, with senior leadership and even with customers. Leaders need to know how and when to manage conflict situations.

Why Conflict Management is Important to a Leader

Leaders are responsible for detecting conflict and managing it to the best outcome possible. We recommend that a conflict management “norm” be established in an organization to provide a process for conflict resolution. This conflict management norm should be developed as a team to ensure that all team members have a level of ownership in the process.

Conflict ManagementBenefits for the Leader

Because conflict can be contagious and destructive, if a leader can manage conflict and provide a process for resolution, gains can occur for the team. Often, a team that has been in “battle” can come out stronger in the long run.

If there is non-destructive conflict (disagreement), leaders should listen and understand the different approaches to a problem or initiative that are behind the disagreement. The leader can be a mediator between those who disagree and actually increase their credibility if the situation is resolved to everyone’s satisfaction.

Top 3 Coaches Recommendations for Conflict Management
  1. Have a core process for solving conflict in your team or organization. Communicate this strategy to your team members and colleagues. If team members are having a conflict, recommend that they use your conflict resolution process before they bring it to you for resolution.
  2. When negotiating conflict between two people, look for areas of agreement. Use these areas as anchors to return to when the situation gets more difficult.
  3. Develop a culture of collaboration that encourages people to work together. Recognize that some people cannot work well with others. Avoid setting up a conflict situation by forcing two people to work closely who have substantial differences. However, you should also be taking steps to work with the individuals to resolve their differences so that they can work together in the future.
Measure and Improve Your Conflict Management Skills

Be determined to improve your conflict management skills and behaviors. Take the short conflict management self-assessment on this page to identify where to improve your conflict management skills and behaviors. Then, get more coaches’ recommendations in Chapter 29 of The Leadership Compass: Mapping Your Leadership Direction to help you fine-tune your conflict management skills and behaviors.

Related Competencies:


Conflict Management

Measure your conflict management skills and behaviors!

Select your level of agreement with each statement in the self-assessment.
When answering the questions, consider how others might evaluate your conflict management.


Recommended Conflict Management Books:

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