Good Leaders Have the Skills to Handle Conflict

Workplace conflict is a common problem in companies where employees frequently interact with one another and work on teams. It is a natural part of working in groups, because different people have different ideas and viewpoints. Good leaders know that disagreements are bound to occur whenever people work together. Sometimes the resulting conflict is uncomfortable or even harmful.

Most conflict stems from differences in values and beliefs, in roles and functions and differences in perception. Other causes can include lack of trust, fear of the consequences and competitiveness. Conflict can ultimately be very destructive when it undermines the team morale and therefore reduces cooperation or when it leads to irresponsible or even harmful behavior.

Unresolved conflict can result in gossip, stress, avoidance, verbal outbursts, and wasted resources that cause drops in productivity.  Sooner or later, every leader will have to deal with a conflict between two or more people. Therefore, it is vital that a good leader knows how to handle and manage conflict.

Handling conflict is part of leadership responsibility. The ability to manage conflict is therefore an essential skill required of a good leader.  Your value as a leader relies on your ability not just to motivate and inspire but also to mediate and resolve team conflict. It is important that you, as a leader, understand your own capabilities for de-escalating conflict

If you don’t want to deal with conflict, leadership is not your thing. Conflict rarely resolves itself…In fact; conflict normally escalates if not dealt with proactively and properly. It will simply erode the team morale and relationships further. It is far better to meet conflict head on and deal with issues directly. When you are armed with the skills to work quickly and effectively to resolve problems, you will gain respect as an involved leader who is committed to being part of the solution rather than part of the problem.

To be a good leader, you need to bolster respect and defend your staff. If any team member is experiencing conflict, that person should feel free to approach the leader and talk about it. This can be achieved only if the leader encourages this quality, and only if people who have approached the leader in the past have received an amicable solution.

As a leader, you must protect and defend the interests of your team. You must ensure that there are no problems between the various team members, and that everyone is working for the betterment of the team, and in tandem with each other.

Make certain that your staff knows they can rely on your leadership to enforce respectful relationships and communication. If a team member is behaving inappropriately, such as intimidating or putting down others in a meeting, pull them aside immediately and tell them that their behavior isn’t tolerated at the company.

Conflict in the workplace is bound to occur, so you may as well equip yourself with the skills to deal with it. Leaders are responsible for creating a work environment that enables people to thrive. If disagreements and differences of opinion escalate into conflict, you must intervene immediately. Not intervening is not an option.

Developing an effective conflict resolution skill set is essential for great leaders. It is especially crucial for conflict competent leaders to understand and embrace their own strengths and developmental opportunities in regard to conflict.

The most effective leaders do more than model effective behaviors and influence or develop others; they also find ways to transform their organization’s conflict culture. As leaders change their own behaviors around conflict resolution and help others to do the same, the slow process of creating a new culture will begin.

Jamie Wood, Avatel EVP


1 Comment


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