I recently attended a professional development session by Noel Posus on “becoming a conflict competent leader” which was an interactive two hours that allowed for experiential learning and development. Following this session I have had some time to reflect, compare with the Emotional Intelligence framework and draw parallels with real situations.
“Conflict is any situation in which people have apparently incompatible goals, interests, principles or feelings”
When the word conflict is mentioned usually there are immediate negative connotations, however there are benefits to conflict, such as:
- Stimulating creativity and problem solving
- Encourages listening
- Promotes reflective thinking
When a conflict situation is a “task focused” there is a higher chance of resolution and benefit than a “person focused” conflict which results in escalation due to negative emotions.
Task focused ~ focus on task and problem solving
Person focused ~ focus on personal with negative emotions
How wonderful it would be if we could keep all conflicts task focused, however emotions can get the better of us and conflict can become person focused quickly. The competent leader according to Noel needs to build relationships (dynamic listening and communication) before the future conflict occurs to ensure when it does occur that it is constructive. Other keys to success involve managing your emotions (have a clear head); actively resolve the conflict (co-operate and take action); and accept conflict (adapt).
“Be the better person no matter what others do in the conflict”
Reflecting on a conflict situation where the technical treatment of a payroll transaction was the focus, the intention of both parties was to seek a resolution and some negotiation was required to achieve a mutually satisfactory solution. It was clear that problem solving was the key to achieve this outcome. According to Boyatzis (1982) through his competency framework the ‘diagnostic use of concepts’ is a critical component to the development of a resolution strategy. We did just that by diagnosing the issue as part of negotiation and a resolution strategy. Similarly, Goleman (2004) highlights the competency of ‘conflict management’ from his emotional intelligence framework which highlights that it is critical to understanding the differing perspectives of the parties to achieve a win-win outcome. Overall, the result was that we diagnosed the implications of the task focused conflict; had an awareness to encourage debate and open discussion which to lead to a more innovative or creative solution.
“Effective managers understand that conflict is not always about resolution; it can also be about orchestrating win-win situations” ~ Goleman (2004)
What sort of conflicts have you been involved with that have resulted in the complete opposite?