Conflict is an inevitable part of life that often brings stress and discomfort. However, according to M. Esther Harding, it is the beginning of consciousness. Conflict can lead to growth, and leaders who possess excellent conflict resolution skills can leverage its surprising benefits. In this article, we’ll discuss why conflict resolution skills are essential for effective leadership and how to improve them.
Dealing with Hidden Problems
Effective conflict resolution skills can help leaders deal with hidden problems that can undermine an organization’s functioning. Leaders who can identify and address these issues can prevent them from escalating and causing more significant problems. By addressing conflicts head-on, leaders can foster a culture of transparency, honesty, and accountability.
Achieving Goals without Undermining Others
Leaders with excellent conflict resolution skills can achieve their goals without undermining others. They can do this by providing a platform to view and understand issues from different perspectives. By considering all viewpoints, leaders can create solutions that benefit everyone involved.
Promoting Cohesiveness within the Team
Conflict resolution brings opposing sides together, promoting cohesiveness within the team or organization. It also allows people to develop their emotional intelligence, self-awareness, and self-knowledge. When conflicts are resolved, team members can focus on their work and collaborate more effectively.
Thomas-Kilmann Conflict Mode Instrument
The Thomas-Kilmann Conflict Mode Instrument defines five conflict-handling behaviors based on assertiveness and openness to collaboration. These behaviors are competing, accommodating, avoiding, compromising, and collaborating.
Competing to solve conflicts can be effective in some cases, but it can also breed resentment. Accommodation may be useful in situations where preserving harmony is crucial. Avoiding conflict may be a temporary solution that allows parties involved to step back and reassess their positions with a cool head. Compromising involves giving up some demands to favor conflict resolution, which creates no winners or losers. However, the team may try to game the predictability of this method. Collaborating is a win-win approach, but it is the most resource-intensive conflict management method in terms of energy, bandwidth, communication, and time.
Improving Conflict Resolution Skills
Improving conflict resolution skills involves keeping discussions courteous, respecting the interlocutor, separating the person from the problem, separating emotion from reasoning, agreeing on facts, and cooperating on finding a solution. By doing this, leaders can turn toxic, affective conflicts into more reasonable cognitive conflicts. Leaders must also make a conscious effort to improve their conflict resolution skills.
Conflict resolution is an essential leadership skill that can foster a healthy leader-team dynamic. Effective conflict resolution skills can help leaders deal with hidden problems, achieve their goals without undermining others, promote cohesiveness within the team, and develop emotional intelligence. Improving conflict resolution skills involves keeping discussions courteous, respecting the interlocutor, separating the person from the problem, separating emotion from reasoning, agreeing on facts, and cooperating on finding a solution. Therefore, leadership training must focus on conflict resolution skills, making it clear that leaders must make a conscious effort to improve them.