The Influence of Organizational Leaders on Conflict

 In modern world the number of conflicts at the workplace increases every day. That is why more and more researches are dedicated to this problem. This paper highlights the major notion of conflict, its types, causes and consequences. The influence of managers, their solutions of the problem and the value of training have leading points in this research. McHenry (2008) explains that the research is undertaken with an aim to calculate and evaluate the current state of workplace conflicts, explore how people from different countries view the conflict and how successful managing of the problem may become an important skill for future leaders.

Workplace Conflict

According to McHenry (2008) the term “conflict” is very subjective. It originates from Latin and means “collision”. In this paper we will consider this term as any disagreement at the workplace that disturbs a working process. Such disagreement can stimulate as well as discourage employees. The challenge for the leader or organization is to use this power in a positive way. Almost 85% of employees have to deal with conflict and 29% of which always face such problematic situations. Psychometrics Canada (2009) provides the list of fields where the frequent conflicts are most common: government (42.7%), education (41.8%), and not-for-profit (41.3%).

Causes of Conflict

 McHenry (2008) as well as Psychometrics Canada (2009) are unanimous considering facts which lead to the disagreement between employees. According to their surveys half of employees think that one of the leading factors of conflicts are personality clashes and warring egos (49%). Stress and heavy workload take the next place in this list and amount 34% and 33% respectively. 29% of respondents claim that the conflict is caused by the poor leadership position of the top executives of the organization, and inefficient management. Also, very influential factors are lack of honesty (26%), clarity about accountability (21%), and others. Cultural factors and emotional state are also a considerable reason which may lead to disagreement.


 Psychometrics Canada (2009) examined both positive and negative effects of the workplace conflict. The research shows that three out of four claim negative effects and consider their insults and attacks as a result of conflict. 81% of respondents consider the disagreement as a reason for leaving the organization, whereas 77% claim that it leads to absence or sickness. Any way, there are people who think that the conflict may bring benefits for employees. Like King Solomon wrote: “As iron sharpens iron, so one person sharpens another.” The conflict is a good stimulus to improve leadership skills, to become better than your opponents. HR professionals emphasize that in 57% of cases the conflict leads to a better solution of the problem. The result may be expressed in more efficient work team performance, stronger motivation, major innovations and better understanding of colleagues. The result of conflict whether it is positive or negative depends, mainly, on successful managing. It requires an ability to take right decision and high professional skills from the leader.

The Role of Leader

In his article Myatt (2012) writes that leadership and conflict go hand-in-hand. Author states that if you do not benefit from the conflict, you will not take the place of a leader. Such things as recognizing of the conflict, understanding its nature and ability to make resolution will train your leadership skills. In McHenry’s (2008) research the statistics shows that 62% of employees consider that everyone in the organization is responsible for the conflict management. Others believe that HR professionals and managers have to deal with conflicts and find proper solutions. According to this research 70% of respondents view the managing of conflict as a crucial leadership skill. Myatt (2012) considers that the real leader does not play tricky games, takes part in conflict dramas, shows his/her emotions and never appreciates things like that. But what if the leader is a part of the conflict? How should he/she act? It is considered that if a manager takes part in the conflict, he/she violates official ethics. So, first of all, the leader has to remember that he/she is an example for others and if he/she decided to defend his/her opinion, he/she has to do it worthily, do not make own leadership positions weaker. However, in most cases leaders take part as mediators. Here, they may have a strong influence upon their employees. According to surveys, leaders may take such measures to prevent and solve the conflict: more informal one-to-one conversations; provide clear demands and duties; manage those who create new and new conflicts; become a model of good behaviour and so on. Acting as a mediator in the conflict, leader may always suggest some ways how to reach the agreement. For example, a good way out may be a compromise, when opponents stop in the golden mean or it can be a competing, but in this case leader should be more attentive and keep the situation under control. Remember that good manager will never let the conflict been avoided as it may cause more serious troubles in the future. Judging from my own experience, the best way out is collaboration. As my grandfather always repeats “Two heads are better than one”. So if two persons join their forces they will benefit much more than one by one.

Importance of Training

 McHenry (2008) provides opinions which concern the productivity in managing the conflict. The third part of managers believes that they do well with conflicts whereas nearly the half of employees does not think that their managers may cope with disagreements. The only way to improve such poor statistics is a professional training. Benefits from such trainings are: more comfortable and confident feeling in handling the conflict, avoiding of the conflict, more positive outcomes and desirable results from conflict situation. But such formal trainings are available only to the half of professional managers, so the others have to look for alternative sources of self-improvement.

Tips for Leaders

 McHenry (2008) summed up all advantages and disadvantages of managing the conflict and made a list of useful tips for leaders. There he recommends not to use the same approach solving different conflicts, not to try to win at all cost as it may lead to “a war” between members of the team, not to forget about your reputation and not let it be spoiled.


 The paper includes general characteristics of workplace conflicts and ways of its solutions. The lead part in this problem takes leadership and effective management. Nowadays such researches are conduced in each field and are aimed at evaluation of the role of leaders, importance of trainings and successful management of conflicts.

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