Conflict Management Coaching Blog by Cinnie Noble
“Setting an example is not the main means of influencing others; it is the only means.” ~Albert Einstein
It’s not always apparent to the leaders referred to me for conflict management coaching that their way of managing and engaging in interpersonal disputes is having an adverse influence on workplace unrest and tensions. They are often not aware as well, how staff in their organization contribute to this by modelling the leader’s way of interacting and creating their own tumult and deconstructive impact on the workplace. Referrals for leaders to shift their ways of being in conflict arise as a consequence of this and the systemic growth of conflict resulting in financial losses due to attrition, legal claims about harassment and bullying, the need for a range of costly interventions, and a poor reputation leading to clients choosing other services.
On the other hand, I am increasingly finding that leaders are self-identifying their challenges and seeking coaching – that is, coming to coaching of their own accord when, or even before, conflict problems are evident. Some are being proactive for the organization as a whole. They accept that conflict is inevitable and look to plan ways that conflict may be ‘normalized’. This might include developing integrated systems and processes to prevent unnecessary conflict and to manage necessary conflict. Leaders also pay attention to their own contribution, and accept that their influence is a critical component of the dynamics needed to build a culture of conflict competence.
The same leaders it appears, from my experience, are more apt to face their own symptoms that are keeping them from being conflict competent. For instance, they may be find their tempers are escalating and they are interacting in ways that shut people down or exacerbate the tensions; they might have been told their way of communicating is problematic – sharp, patronizing, critical and so on; they may be continually demonstrating defensive behaviour; they may refuse to listen and hear what is going on around them and so on. When leaders admit they have a responsibility to improve their way of managing conflict they stand a good chance of stopping the message they have previously sent that says ‘you are allowed to act like this too!’
This week’s Conflict Mastery Quest(ions) blog invites leaders and others, of course, to consider how you influence others by the way you engage in conflict – considering the ways you know you need improvement as to not negatively influence others.