We are all leaders in some area of our lives, and every leader everywhere deals with conflict. A critical component of responsive and effective leadership is to actively prevent and resolve conflict. One key way you as a leader can prevent conflict should be obvious: do your part to not cause it!
First, recognize the significance of seemingly small details and how a careless statement, critical comment, misdirected praise, overlooked indiscretion, or forgotten thank you can get under someone’s skin and begin to chafe and cause friction. Strive to avoid those pitfalls! Next, practice these responsive actions:
- Give credit where credit is due.
- Give private criticism and public praise.
- Provide help whenever asked.
- Don’t make snap judgments.
- Don’t overlook misconduct.
- Communicate, communicate, communicate.
As much as I’d like to say that following the above advice is the key to leading a conflict-free life, it’s not that simple. No matter how hard you work to prevent conflict, inevitably it will still happen. And no matter the source, when discord does happen it falls to you as the leader to manage, resolve, and transform it. How you do that has the potential to set you apart as a responsive, inspirational leader. Here are a few tips for handling conflict:
- Be alert.
- Be patient.
- Carefully consider the details.
- Be sensitive to the needs of everyone involved.
As a leader, you must address conflict quickly before it causes lasting damage to relationships, morale, and organizational success. So when conflict happens, be a responsive leader by carefully handling and ultimately transforming it!
[This article was adapted from Chapter 8 of my book, Be An Inspirational Leader]