Conflict resolution skills: Resolve crises and improve performance with effective conflict resolution skills

Conflict resolution skills are an essential part of an executive's skills portfolio. The challenges associated with managing teams and global businesses are numerous and arise from both external and internal factors. Internal conflicts related to an organization or a specific team are particularly challenging. They can greatly disrupt the normal flow of business operations, negatively affecting deliverables and profitability. In order to avoid such situations, executives of all levels need to have effective conflict resolution skills.

Complementing the leadership skill set
High performance leadership means possessing the full set of skills and competences needed to succeed in today's challenging business climate. In addition to the so-called "hard skills"- which include technical knowledge related to an organization's core business- effective executives also possess "soft" or "people" leadership skills. These include communication skills and the ability to motivate and inspire. Conflict resolution skills constitute another absolute "must" for executives of all levels.

Conflicts in the workplace
Conflicts are an inherent part of life. The workplace is no exception since individuals arrive with a pre-established set of values and beliefs. Conflicts are bound to arise when there is an apparent clash of interests or beliefs. The complexity of modern business operations creates an additional layer of risks. Operating in highly diverse environments translates into an elevated level of interpersonal misunderstanding and potential conflicts. Strong conflict resolution skills are necessary to resolve such situations.

Managing conflicts effectively
Managing conflicts can be a challenging task - and one whose outcomes can either create a renewed sense of organizational purpose and a common vision, or turn a small misunderstanding into a full-blown conflict. Conflicts tend to trigger storms of emotions. In conflicting situations the involved parties tend to respond based on their individual perspective of the situation at stake. Managing such a situation quickly and effectively thus becomes imperative in order to avoid further escalation. As persons of authority, executives are best positioned to respond to such situations. In order to do so effectively they need to be in possession of conflict resolution skills.

Learning conflict resolution skills
While it is widely believed that most soft skills are innate and cannot be acquired through training and experience, this is not the case. Many leadership courses are available that include negotiation skills training and leadership coaching to improve conflict resolution skills. These often focus on building better awareness, analysing the source of conflicts and engaging relevant parties to resolve them.

Indeed, equipping executives with techniques and tools for dealing with challenging situations should be part of corporate training from all good business management schools. After all, the only effective leaders are those with good people skills - and this includes strong conflict resolution skills.


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