Healthy conflict


In our lives and as leaders, we inevitable face some conflicts, including with people we collaborate with closely. If you want to change something, it increases the chance of conflict and underlying tensions. For this reason, it is relevant to examine how we tend to deal with these situations, in order to find better ways through them. "Almost all popular leadership theories are based on a view of social relations being characterized by consensus and harmony. There is at least an implicit view that leadership, if exercised reasonably competently, generally leads to shared beliefs and understanding, positive emotions, commitment, and loyalty. In many organizational contexts, this may be misleading. It does not take a Machiavelli to acknowledge that organizational life is full of politics, conflicts, and contradictory ideals. People have different interests and orientations and not everybody is inclined to respond positively to even the best of leadership efforts. Leadership thinking often as a tendency to deny this, instead emphasizing harmony, peace, win-win and consensus. Romantic notions and wishful thinking need to be balanced with a degree of realism and acknowledgment that good things do not always go hand in hand with each other. " (Alvesson 2016)

Conflict is of interest both in its positive and negative aspects. The negative aspect of the conflict is the disruption it causes, which has the potential to reduce performance and make members dissatisfied and unhappy. This must be weighed against the positive aspects of conflict, the new ideas and procedures it often introduces or sparks, the stronger workgroup and increased trust and capabilities that result from successfully navigating a difficult conflict, and the increased participation and voice that well-managed conflicts afford members.

Strategies for addressing conflict in an organization: -Identify and address underlying tensions before things go wrong -More informal one-to-one conversations with people they manage -Act as mediators when conflict develops -Provide more clarity over whatโ€™s expected -Be a model of the right behaviors -Provide more clarity over areas of responsibility -Manage toxic individuals who create conflict more firmly -Provide counseling for employees in conflict -Not let their own egos get in the way -Improved consultation in the day-to-day management -Raise the subject of possible conflict as part of business -Provide improved work-life balance

Intention: The intention of this task is simply to become aware of own patterns regarding conflict, tension, and difficulties between you and others. That makes it possible for us to get more comfortable navigating conflict, and to find ways of doing so more productively. Ideally, we manage to notice own positive and negative patterns, giving us more freedom to notice and slowly improve and develop more effective strategies. This means taking a look at past situations, trying to notice patterns in your own behavior. In doing that, you will have to enter a reflexive process through questioning own assumptions about the past and own behavior. It would often be beneficial to ask yourself questions such as, did you see the whole picture in those situations? What were the underlying needs driving behavior in those situations, for both parties? In what way did I contribute to the conflict?

Note: We must be cautious about putting too much responsibility on the individual if there is conflict at work, in the society. Sometimes the existing social structures, norms, and culture is to blame, which would require different solutions than what this task can bring to the table. This task is focused on the leeway you have as an individual, and the individual capacity for dealing with conflict.



Alvesson, Mats. 2016. Reflexive Leadership.

Garner, Johny T., and Marshall Scott Poole. 2013. โ€œPerspectives on Workgroup Conflict and Communication.โ€ In The SAGE Handbook of Conflict Communication, 321โ€“48. 2455 Teller Road, Thousand Oaks California 91320 United States: SAGE Publications, Inc. doi:10.4135/9781452281988.n14.

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