Managing through Conflict as an Effective Leader

As leaders, we have the self-awareness and knowledge of our own thinking preferences through the HBDI® as well as an important understanding of the need for diverse thinking. We also know that these varying perspectives and expertise can be the greatest strength of high-performing teams as they MUST operate with a high degree of collaboration and innovation to achieve powerful results. The challenge of many viewpoints can be conflict and unless managed well, could result in resentment, antagonism, polarized teams and potentially turnover. A CPP Global Human Capital report on Workplace Conflict shows most leaders report spending somewhere between 18% and 26% of their time managing conflict with a cost to organizations in the millions each year. And the opportunity costs are even greater as the many positive benefits of well-managed conflict could be harnessed with stimulated thinking and greater outcomes. So what tools are available to help us with conflict management?

Kenneth W. Thomas and Ralph Kilmann, both PH.D.’s, developed an assessment and strategy to address the need for conflict management. Called the Thomas-Kilmann Instrument (TKI®), the concepts can easily become a core competency for leaders by helping them develop conflict literacy, measure conflict styles, build conflict management skills, involve top management and use conflict-focused team building interventions. The basic TKI® model is described below:

tkimodel resized

Key Takeaways: Below are various ways conflict is typically handled. They are:

  • Competing is assertive and uncooperative. You try to satisfy your concerns at the other’s expense—to win.
  • Accommodating is unassertive and cooperative—the opposite of competing. You sacrifice your own concerns to satisfy the other person’s.
  • Compromising is partially assertive and partially cooperative. You look for an acceptable settlement that only partially satisfies both your own and the other person’s concerns.
  • Avoiding is unassertive and uncooperative. You try to sidestep or postpone the conflict, satisfying neither person’s concerns.
  • Collaborating is both assertive and cooperative. You try to problem-solve to find a solution that completely satisfies both your concerns and the other’s.

Understanding everyone’s preferred way to deal with conflict is the first step towards moving teams to better problem-solving and collaboration. The TKI approach to managing conflict is another level of skill-building that can be uniquely integrated with the Whole Brain® Thinking methodology offered by KnowledgeSources

Tell us your story…We’d like to hear from you on what you’ve learned about conflict and how to manage it. Email me or reply below to share your comments section. Others may learn from your story and what you share. To see a list of all the Top Tips that have been published, please see the complete blog.

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