Understanding ourselves as Leaders is key to effective conflict resolution

Conflict resolution is a daily feature at work that can either drive or derail the momentum for a leader, team members or in some cases the entire organization. The workplace can very quickly become a toxic environment when leaders allow conflict to intensify rather than confronting it in its early stages.

Workplace conflict can be caused by a number of factors including; personality differences, poor communication, lack of role clarity or mismanagement of workplace change.

Many leaders I work with advise that they have avoided conflict in the hope of maintaining harmony or because of the fear of “not being liked”. Unfortunately in these leaders experience using this strategy merely "kicked the can down the road" and often damaged their leadership reputation with their team.

Revisiting conflict scenarios and your approach to conflict resolution is a helpful way to understand your effectiveness as well as blind spots when faced with conflict.  In my experience emotions that arise for us in conflict conversations influence thoughts which in turn influence actions. If you are regularly feeling challenged to address conflict, revisit a recent conflict situation you endeavored to resolve and ask yourself the following questions:

  1. What emotional reaction did you notice in your interaction with this person around this conflict?
  2. What happened that triggered this emotion?
  3. When you were feeling the emotion what thoughts were going through your head, either about the other person or yourself?
  4. How did you react afterwards? What did you do next?
  5. How do you think these actions served you? What got in the way of resolving the conflict?
  6. Having reviewed the situation, what would you have preferred to have happened to resolve it? What would you have done differently?

All of the above questions will provide you with useful insight to help you understand how you are impacting the resolution of conflict. However question 3 often brings up beliefs or stories we may have about the other person which may need to be explored to understand if these are helping or limiting for us. In my experience of coaching clients to develop their conflict resolution skills the answers to this question helps leaders uncover what has been holding them back from succeeding at managing conflict. Their answers usually highlight stories they are telling themselves about the other person (which they may not have explored to validate) or limiting beliefs about their own competence to manage themselves or others.

Conflict in the workplace should be embraced and dealt with.  Challenge your beliefs about conflict resolution and through insightful exploration learn about your own leadership maturity as you lead others through adversity.

Contact me for a free 30 minute consultation to explore what might be holding you back from addressing conflict ;http://bit.ly/3oXaIri