Leaders are many times confronted with the issue of choice, policy, principles, processes, norms, behaviors, decisions and code of conduct while leading teams and followers.
Every leader is usually elated when those policies or whatever tools they communicate and emplace are accepted without questions or misgivings. Unfortunately, that is not the world leaders live in.
Inasmuch as a leader desires harmony, team spirit and focused unity, their world can sometimes be filled with attritions or what is usually referred to as conflict.
The word conflict conjures different meanings in the minds of several leaders. For many, it should be avoided with a 40feet pole while others believe it is unavoidable if you want to make your mark as a leader.
My position is that conflicts are unavoidable if you are a high impact leader but the outcome can be managed in such a way that the impact becomes constructive and unifying. The strength of a leader is defined not by his ability to stoke conflict but their handling, the ability to use conflict to provoke greater focus on issues and to create a problem solving approach, rather than divisive opinions.
Conflict generally means the existence of friction, discord or strong differences between individuals in a group/team or between one group and another, in such a way that resistance, agitation or infighting becomes a visible way of attracting attention towards its existence and/or resolution. Good leadership style is not a panacea for absence of conflicts in any team/group or among groups.
Conflicts exist in the following forms in a group or organization.
- a. Misunderstanding. This occurs between individuals or groups when a party fails to accurately understand another party’s point of view or position in a subject matter of mutual interest. In misunderstanding context, it is usual for the individuals totake entrenched positions and be blind to other party/parties arguments.
- Disagreement. There may be times when the parties to a conflict have identified the causative factors of a conflict and have both arrived at accurate understanding of the issues involved but they still fail to agree on a consensual solution.
- c. Dispute. A dispute is understood to mean a misunderstanding or disagreement that has been taken to either the law court or a third party constituted to mediate in such cases. A full blown conflict condition exists anytime two or more people disagree and their position advances into a dispute phase.