A group of individuals in a team will most likely have different ideas on how to conduct activities and execute projects. It is up to the leader to understand how to diffuse negative situations and reduce the emergence of conflict. Conflict management deals with differences that arise in a group due to differing opinions and interpretations.
Ineffective communication is the primary source of conflict in a team. It is the leader's job to ensure that the team works cohesively. While the leader must communicate in an easy to understand manner in a team, the leader must also ensure they can preempt communication issues among the team to prevent or resolve a conflict and ensure the smooth running of the project.
There may be external causes of conflict that are not the fault of any party, and a good leader will consider this during conflict management. For instance, a new employee of the company may be adjusting slowly to a company's operational style, which may lead to a dispute among team members.
There are different steps in conflict management that a leader will employ to resolve a dispute. The first is assessing the situation. A good leader evaluates the problem by having both sides describe the issues as they see them before determining whether to intervene. The leader is, however, mindful of potentially counterproductive intervention. Team members in an organization are for the most part adults capable of resolving minor conflicts among themselves without their leaders' input.
A forward-thinking leader spots patterns that may lead to conflict among their team members, and employs conflict prevention tactics to anticipate problems in the team. For instance, if a conflict arises in a team due to a member's energetic way of working in a calm environment, a leader with conflict management skills resolves the conflict. They then follow up with the individual to ensure that they do not disturb the rest of the team with their work process. In situations such as these, creating work guidelines that cover work processes will go a long way toward keeping a team running smoothly.
Another example of conflict management skills is the reduction of stress, both on the workforce and the leader. The instance above of workplace guidelines already reduces the chances of conflict among the employees that can lead to tension in the work environment, and the leader can better focus on supervising the team to achieve the organization's goals.
When a leader mediates two conflicting parties, both are allowed to express their reasons for the conflict. While analyzing the situation, any leader could get insight into measures that can improve the processes and interaction of the team, insight which may not have been possible without the dispute.
Conflict management can engender improved teamwork among members of the team. When a leader successfully diffuses conflict between two parties, it may boost morale and collaboration between the conflicting parties as well as the team.
While conflict management is essential in leading a team, it also sharpens the leader's patience and exposes them to the psychological patterns of their employees and the people around them. It also has the added benefit of promoting a composed and organized image of the leader, which are qualities admired by many organizations, and may push the leader upward in their career.