Problems and conflict are a fact of life.

Many leaders are unwilling to face people challenges and those who do, often do it ineffectively. Some try to control situations with manipulation and angry outbursts, and some find it easier to ignore festering problems in the hope they will eventually go away—except they never do.

Think of facing a conflict with another person like this: it isn’t about the individual person—it’s about the ineffective outcome of their actions and behaviors.

Navigating conflict is a common and difficult challenge. Why? Confronting others is an uncomfortable act for most people.

Different people have different styles when confronting various issues that arise. Here are a few styles I have witnessed:

  • Do it my way: These people are Dictators—they use their power to win at the expense of others. Many may find themselves walking on eggshells around these leaders out of fear they may offend them and/or set them off. Those leaders who resort to this behavior are usually deeply resented.
  • Have it your way: These people are Accommodators—they handle conflict by accommodating the needs and wants of others. They would rather keep quiet for the sake of maintaining a relationship—a relationship they don’t authentically have in the first place. These leaders think they are avoiding an argument. Instead, they are creating an internal storm that often leads to resentment.
  • Walk away: These people are Avoiders—they avoid conflict at all cost, even if that cost is their own beliefs and values. They would rather withdraw from a situation than deal with conflict. Leaders who don’t deal with problematic situations in a timely and mature manner lose the respect of their staff.
  • Undermine the way: These people are Manipulators—they manipulate the situation through indirect means. Their actions range from throwing hints, making sarcastic remarks, or directing others behind the scenes. Secretly, they hope the other party will get the message. If and when they do, it is usually anger and frustration, which isn’t healthy for the team.
  • Let’s find a way: These people are Collaborators—they authentically collaborate with others to seek common ground. They are willing to confront conflict directly with those who have the ability to change a situation. While their desires are clear, they remain open to potential solutions and compromises. Effective leaders realize that there is more than one way to accomplish the same goal—a character trait that can reap big dividends.

In challenging situations, which leadership style do you use most often?

The ability to authentically confront others is a learned behavior. Employees don’t turn to written statements in the company handbook for clues on how to behave—they look at you, their leader, and the style you model. Effective leaders act the way they want their team to act.

Have a delicate situation to navigate?

Contact me and together we can practice speaking to the heart of the matter.