The Results Are In: New Leaders Most Lack Conflict Management Skills

RL02-09-16In our January poll, we asked readers which leadership skills they were most lacking when they first became a leader. And with 38% of the votes, “conflict management skills” was identified as the number one skill leaders lacked when they first started out, followed by “delegation skills” at 31%.

The rest of the results include:

  • Communication skills – 16%
  • Organizational skills – 8%
  • I didn’t lack any leadership skills – 2%

Nearly 7% of people who completed the poll selected the “other” option and submitted their own thoughts on which skills they were most lacking when they first became a leader, including:

  • Confidence
  • Time Management
  • Public Speaking
  • Listening skills
  • All of them

Conflict Management is Essential
It’s not surprising conflict management was the top choice in the poll. The potential for conflict exists at all levels of business, and, as a leader, it’s imperative to equip yourself with the tools to identify and diffuse conflict before it becomes out of control.

Conflict resolution is a major topic in business leadership and management, so naturally there are a wide variety of ideas on how to address it. One tool on conflict management includes the Thomas–Kilmann Conflict Mode Instrument (TKI), which was developed by researchers and professors Kenneth W. Thomas and Ralph H. Kilmann. The TKI identifies five different styles of conflict and can be used to measure how a person may respond in a conflict situation. In a nutshell, the five styles and characteristics of each include:

  • Accommodating: Overly cooperative, even if it works against you.
  • Avoiding: Ignore the issue, hope it resolves itself.
  • Collaborating: Seeking a win-win solution for all parties involved.
  • Competing: This is a win-lose scenario with little or no cooperation from the “winning” party.
  • Compromising: Lose-lose situation where neither party involved gets an outright “win.”

One of the main ideas behind the TKI is that understanding the five styles can not only help identify where each party in a conflict is coming from, but also how to address the situation to hopefully come to a resolution. You can find more information about the TKI at

There is no one size-fits-all solution for conflict management. So, it’s important to find a style that works for you. How has conflict affected workplace productivity in your business? What are some ways you’ve developed to address conflict in your workplace? Let us know in the comments section below.

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