Conflict is most likely to happen in low-performing teams
Leadership as it pertains to conflict was examined. Leaders are faced with several types of conflicts that need attention. The two broad types of conflicts are functional and dysfunctional. Leaders with high emotional intelligence have a benefit in handling conflict; the biggest management is stress management. Transactional and transformation leadership styles are the most used with highly emotional intelligent leaders. There are five ways action can be taken to deal with conflict; collaborating and accommodating are the most popular. Leaders must pay attention to employee conflict and deal with it appropriately with emotional intelligence.
Keywords: leadership, conflict management, emotional intelligence
Leadership and Employee Conflict
This paper explores how conflict management is needed by leaders. An effective leader must handle conflict effectively. Many choose to avoid or pretend that conflict does not exist. Non-action is the most common conflict management strategy because people are uncomfortable with confronting the conflict (Singleton, Toombs, Taneja, Larkin, & Pryor, 2011). But this can lead to many problems. Unresolved conflict can lead to unhappy employees, high turnover, lower productivity and lower profits (Deyoe & Fox, 2011). Leaders are faced with many different types of conflicts. Such as, generational conflict, which can be the use of technology by younger workers during the work day for personal use and a desire to work away from the office (Deyoe & Fox, 2011). A leader must have proper conflict management skills. Conflict management is essentially an attempt to bring parties together, to engage in some form of non-violent contact where they can explore a way out of their impasse either by themselves or through the aid of another person or agency (Bercovitch & Chalfin, 2011). A leaders emotional intelligence and understanding of conflict with the use of proper style can ensure that conflict is managed.
Conflict Management Effectiveness
Proper leadership will be able to deal with conflict effectively. Leadership can give people a voice, help them stay with their conflicts when needed, and contain the tensions rather than adopting a one-dimensional either/or perspective when collaboration is not yet an option (Kuttner, 2011). Leadership that is effective provides encouragement and support, releases tensions, harmonizes misunderstanding and deals with disruptive or aggressive behavior (Lather, Jain, Jain, & Vikas, 2009). The most sever type of conflict that causes the most amount of stress is interpersonal conflict (Jaramillo, Mulki, & Boles, 2011). Leader must pay the most attention to this type of conflict. Interpersonal conflict involves both overt (e.g., rudeness) and covert (e.g., spreading rumors) behaviors that lead to psychological strain (Jaramillo, Mulki, & Boles, 2011).
Nature of Conflict
Conflict is most likely to happen in low-performing teams (Choi & Cho, 2011), and teams that lack open and adequate communication (Singleton, Toombs, Taneja, Larkin, & Pryor, 2011). While, familiar group members are more likely than strangers to form favorable first impressions, trust one another, accept other membersí ideas at face value, and be comfortable disagreeing with one another (Choi & Cho, 2011). Organizational leaders must understand the nature of conflict in order to know whether the conflict should be managed effectively or resolved/eliminated (Singleton, Toombs, Taneja, Larkin, & Pryor, 2011). There are two major types of conflict, functional and dysfunctional. Functional conflicts are related to the concept and functioning of the very organization and can be said to increase the degree of functionality and efficiency of the organization (Zikic, Marinovic, & Trandafilovic, 2012). Dysfunctional conflicts are any confrontation between individuals and groups that harm the organization or hinder the achievement of organizational goals (Zikic, Marinovic, & Trandafilovic, 2012). Dysfunctional conflicts are very difficult to fix and can result in such sever actions such as employee termination. Leaders who manage conflicts best are able to draw out all parties, understand the differing perspectives, and then find a common ideal that everyone can endorse (Goleman, Boyatzis, & Mckee, 2002).
Conflict and Emotional Intelligence
People who are more sensitive to their emotions and the impact of their emotions on others will be leaders who are more effective (Northouse, 2012). In the position of leader, the importance of emotional intelligence tends to be positioned around 85%, and IQ at 15% (Hahn, Sabou, Toader, & Radulescu, 2012). Emotional intelligence helps leaders in times of stress. This is important because, conflict decreases our awareness through increased stress, but conflict resolution requires increasing awareness and decreased stress (Nan, 2011). Lenaghan, Buda, and Eisner (2007) found that leaders who have high emotional intelligence may better and more carefully handle the inherent work-family conflict than those with low Emotional Intelligence. There is a positive relation between emotional intelligence and conflict management which means that the emotional intelligence of individuals affect their quality of dissolving disagreements and the styles of conflict managements (Aliasgari & Farzadnia, 2012). High emotional intelligence brings in a different type of leadership style. Emotionally intelligent leaders and employees tend to use more of the collaborating or integrating style of conflict resolution in which there is high concern towards self and other (Godse & Thingujam, 2010). Leaders must communicate their emotions using all means of expression, verbal and nonverbal (Kouzes & Posner, 2012). Leaders with high emotional intelligence are most likely to use transformational followed by transactional leadership. Empathy has been identified as the most important emotion for transformational leadership, which is defined as the ability to comprehend anotherís feelings and to reexperience them oneself (Yan, 2010). Transactional leaders motivate followers by exchanging with them rewards for services rendered, while transformational leaders motivate followers to work for transcendental goals rather than their immediate self-interest (Bartunek & Bowe, 1988).
Conflict Leader Styles
Leaders have the option of taking action on conflict in several ways. Five different orientations or styles are possible for handling conflict: competing (domination), collaborating (integration), sharing (compromise), avoiding (neglect), and accommodating (appeasement) (Gallanan, Benzing, & Perri, 2006). The collaborating response was selected by 47% of the respondents, whereas the expected choice, accommodating, was the second most preferred choice at 30% (Gallanan, Benzing, & Perri, 2006). Yan (2010) found that female leaders are more likely to take an accommodative stance in dealing with confronting employees and top management in decision-making conflicts.
For an organization to prosper it is imperative that leaders understand conflict and proper leadership is implemented. Leaders that have higher emotional intelligence are better at dealing with conflict. Leaders have the option of using several leadership styles and methods to handle conflict. Further research is needed in how emotional intelligence effects leader reactions to such conflicts as interpersonal conflict, functional or dysfunctional conflict, and in the five different conflict orientations or styles.
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