Managing Conflict With Those You Lead

Managing conflict or arbitrating through disagreements is never the fun part of being a leader. Still, even the greatest leaders have to understand how to handle conflict and, wherever possible, prevent it or manage it in such a way that workplace morale and productivity isn’t severely dented.

Conflict management is a crucial skill that every leader should acquire, and seeking mentoring, training and coaching services early in your career can help, as it can undoubtedly be challenging learning on the job.

Leadership and conflict management connections

Conflicts may not happen often, but you will undoubtedly lose the respect of your team if you don’t handle it correctly. You may lose the confidence of your superiors if it is found that conflict is severely damaging output and morale. Promoting employee happiness benefits everyone; as a leader, understanding potential conflicts you may face and strategies to handle them will help you maintain workplace harmony

You are primarily likely to face two different conflicts occurring. The first is personality clashes and conflicts between individual team members, and secondly, the conflict team members have with goals or demands placed on them or the methods required to meet those goals. 

To achieve goals, the team must understand not only the destination but also the route to get there. You will see better cooperation and achievement if methods used to complete a project successfully can be agreed upon.

Success requires clear communication both from the leader and the team. One of a leader’s primary responsibilities is to build a team that works well together and can handle differences of opinion without damaging the team’s overall well-being and usefulness. Undoubtedly, a team will comprise varying personalities, which is often essential to identify the best possible outcomes. Too similar characters can leave great ideas missed, so as a leader, you must have the ability to recognise potential conflicts and resolve them quickly. Understanding conflict management will help identify possible causes and give a chance to resolve issues before they occur or provide ways to resolve existing conflicts to ensure the team dynamics aren’t interrupted, and you keep a cohesive unit.

The benefits of sound conflict management for leaders

Even with differing opinions occasionally, a team that works together, successfully managing conflict, will achieve goals, develop strategies, and streamline processes more effectively if they are led well.

Look to assess the situation and only intervene when necessary. Some conflicts may resolve quickly without assistance. When a solution isn’t forthcoming, or the conflict persists, it is time to step in.

Create guidelines. If it is clear that certain situations always cause conflict, try establishing rules that help respectful conduct or use error accountability that defines expected behaviours and consequences when things don’t go to plan.

When you can recognise outside forces likely to cause conflicts, such as changes in work processes that may require additional support for some team members to adjust. In that case, you can establish a training program or offer support where appropriate to team cohesion. This may be enough to reduce the chances of conflicts occurring.

The essential tips for leadership conflict management are staying calm, impartial, and focusing on facts whilst maintaining boundaries. Set clear behavioural expectations and a way for team members to understand what a resolution looks like for each individual to enable the whole team to benefit.

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