Making the Most of Your Skills as a Leader: Conflict Management

Every leader has specific traits and characteristics that help build a cohesive set of skills needed to successfully manage a team. And while no two leaders are alike, they do posses similar qualities that, when utilized effectively, help their employees flourish in their roles. From strong communication to empowering others to effective conflict management, each leader’s skillset can make the difference between a high performing, motivated team to a disgruntled, actively disengaged group of employees with one foot out the door. In this monthly series, we will examine 12 specific skills that leaders can embrace to become the best versions of themselves.

Skill: Conflict Management
Subsets: Resolution, Accommodation, Facilitation, Communication

Effective conflict management is one of the most important skills a leader can cultivate and hone, mainly because conflict is inevitable in the workplace. According to a study by CPP Global, the publisher of Myers-Briggs personality assessment, 85% of employees and leaders experience some amount of conflict at work. Moreover, 29% said they experience near constant conflict, whereas 12% said they’ve observed conflict among leaders.

The top 10 most frequent causes of conflict ranged from ego and stress to poor leadership and unclear roles:

  • 49%: Clashes between personalities or egos
  • 34%: Workplace stress
  • 33%: Too much work without enough support
  • 29%: Poor leadership
  • 26%: Dishonesty or not enough openness
  • 23%: Problems with line managers
  • 22%: Unclear roles
  • 21%: Confusion about accountability
  • 18%: Clashing values
  • 16%: Poor team composition

To better understand how to embrace your current conflict management skillset and how to grow into a better facilitator, it’s important to understand the different types of conflict resolution and which ones you gravitate toward.


A conflict avoidant leader ignores underlining issues in hope the problem will subside. Though it sometimes may seem an attractive route, avoiding the conflict altogether can lead to larger issues in the future and shows a lack of care and compassion for the problem at hand.

This style shows that the party neither values the relationship nor the issue, resulting in a “we both lose” scenario.


Leaders who use the accommodating conflict management style are sometimes seen as people pleasers, not wanting to ruffle any feathers. While focusing on others’ needs, this type neglects their own.

In this style, the main party values the relationship over the issue, resulting in a “you win, I lose” scenario.


The competing conflict management scenario occurs when there is no budge on either side. This style can occur when seemingly an unstoppable force meets an immovable object. When only one side objects to conceding, it forces the other party to either accommodate or avoid.

This style shows the party values the issue highly, while disregarding the relationship, resulting in a “I win, you lose” scenario.


This style is the classic “meet-in-the-middle” scenario, causing each party to concede parts of an argument.

This style shows the party values both the relationship and the issue to varying degrees, resulting in a “we both win some.”


The most effective type of conflict resolution is collaboration. This style is used when a facilitator wants to come out of a conflict with a solution to help all parties get what they want.

This style shows both parties value the relationship and the issue highly, resulting in a “I win, you win.”

Making the Most of Your Conflict Skills

Regardless of what type of conflict management style you gravitate to, every situation is different and may need aspects of all styles. Upskill your style by trying different types to work out issues in the office.

What skills do you think are the most important for leaders? How do you make the most of the skills you possess? Let us know in the comments section below!

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