Conflict and Leadership Written by Justin M. Deonarine, I/O Psychologist Read time: 2 minutes It seems that conflict and leadership go hand-in-hand. A recent survey of Canadian organizations revealed the following trends: More than 93%of HR professionals see conflict management as an important leadership skill. However, only 17% of respondents report that leaders are effective dealing with conflict. On the other hand, 73% of respondents suggest that poor leadership as a common cause of conflict. While dealing with conflict is everyone’s responsibility, effective leaders can help to manage any conflict that may arise. How can leaders improve their conflict management skills? Identify and address underlying tensions before things go wrong: Sometimes, prevention is easier than resolution. If you can identify and address tensions before they become conflict, then you will minimize the changes of the disagreement becoming a challenge. Be a model of the right behaviours: This could be an indicator of why only 17% of respondents think that leaders are handling conflict effectively. Rather than reacting out of habit, stop and consider the factors at hand (such as the goals and the relationships involved) and choose the most effective approach to conflict. Doing this consistently will indicate to others that this is the preferred way to manage conflict, rather than reacting in the way that first comes to them. Be clear about expectations: Conflict often arises when dealing with unexpected issues. If employees aren’t clear on the expectations, goals, or resources available, unanticipated challenges arise more frequently. By ensuring that these factors are well-defined for their team, leaders can avoid creating the uncertainty that leads to conflict. Note that these recommendations are based on general behaviours, not specialized learning. As a result, these practical conflict management skills can be implemented quickly and applied to a wide range of situations and environments. By honing their conflict management skills, leaders can make a positive impact on their teams, promote strong relationships, and pave the way for their team’s achievement and growth. Ready to strengthen leadership skills to effectively manage conflicts? Explore our comprehensive leadership development assessments that provide the objective feedback necessary for leaders to grow and understand how their style impacts the people around them.