Power and conflict

“‘Leadership is difficult.’ Inherent in any leadership challenge is stress. Stress comes from the environment, interpersonal conflict, the nature or amount of work, or simply the uncertain of what lies ahead.” (Shankman, Allen, & Haber Curran, 2015). Best teams can fall apart easily, due to conflict, if the conflict is not handled properly (Kraemer, 2015). Thus, when a conflict breaks, there are five strategies that people could use: forcing, accommodating, avoiding, compromising and collaborative; but usually, people tend to gravitate towards one or two of them (Williams, n.d.).

Kraemer (2015), illustrates the example of Campbell Soup, a company that recruited and grew in size with employees that were not aligned with the company’s values, and eventually, these people got promoted. These newly promoted ill-fitted employees were unequipped to create the best teams, and a few bad apples and negative influences almost destroyed the company, because of their concentration on short-term goals rather than long-term goals by increasing the price of their products above the value of private-labeled store brands. The CEO had a lot of changes to make to turn that company around and with change brings conflict. Williams (n.d.), illustrates an example of a conflict where Shaun Williams didn’t handle conflict appropriately, used physical forcing during a football game, which got his team penalized heavily, cost the team the game, and ended the team’s season. However, constructive conflict and trust are needed to openly and honestly have engaging relationships (Cashman, 2010).

So, I do not avoid conflict; I tend to embrace it by either compromising or being collaborative. I am more compromising if I am not so invested in the final result, but the other person or team is. I am more collaborative, learning about what the other person needs and wants are, building relationships, and forge a solution that is bigger (win-win) than if I were to use any of the other four strategies (win-lose or lose-lose). I had witnessed true collaboration, where my team built up a solution when there was a seed of a solution and combined other aspects of another solution that was brought in by another teammate.

I tend to be more compromising than I am collaborative, given my ADHD. I rarely get attached to a solution that would be worth it enough to keep the most conflict moving forward unless it is a constructive conflict. A constructive conflict helps build a better solution than prolong destructive conflict because constructive conflict focuses on engaging open and honest conflicts and building upon our relationships (Cashman, 2010). When I am seeking collaboration, I try to find a solution that stays true to both solutions or a solution that meets both of our goals, needs, and wants.

However, if a conflict quickly becomes destructive, I tend to separate myself from the situation, to allow my emotions first to subside and give both parties a chance to breathe and see the conflict with fresh eyes. At the point that there is a prolonged destructive conflict, I tend to re-evaluate if it is worth to keep up the conflict or to maintain the relationship (usually the relationship wins as long as it doesn’t violate my personal values). I have a tendency to avoid prolonged destructive conflict.

Resources:

  • Cashman, K. (2010) Leadership from the inside out: Becoming a leader for life. (2nd ed.). San Francisco, Berrett-Koehler Publishing, Inc.
  • Shankman, M. L., Allen, S. J., Haber-Curran, P. (2015-01-26). Emotionally Intelligent Leadership: A Guide for Students, (2nd ed.).
  • Kraemer, H. M. J. (2015). Becoming the best. (1st ed.). New Jersey, Wiley.
  • Williams, S. (n.d.). Conflict management – Style and strategy. Retrieved from http://www.wright.edu/~scott.williams/LeaderLetter/conflict.htm
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