Within any organization that consists of more than one individual, it is unfortunately inevitable that conflict can and will occur. With this fact in mind; however, it is important to remember that oftentimes individuals will recognize their due diligence in mitigating such conflict and what is really needed is the correct leadership in order to stimulate such instincts. Effective leaders can tackle conflict head-on in a way that is in the best interests of everyone while also enabling and encouraging them to be better individuals.
Bob Reasso, a highly-experienced athletic director with a firmly-established history of working in the higher education industry, provides an overview concerning exactly how leaders should approach conflict resolution in the most effective way possible.
First and foremost, every leader should recognize that the moment a conflict occurs, time is of the essence. It is not a process that should be approached lightly or casually, but rather, quite seriously and promptly, says Bob Reasso. Unfortunately, many conflicts, if left unchecked, can escalate with enough time and it is the responsibility of leaders to recognize this fact and do everything in their power to act on conflict immediately.
When leaders act in this way, they are communicating to the parties involved in the conflict that they are willing to be present, taking time out of their schedules to provide assistance however possible. This alone will ideally help alleviate tensions and frustrations and is the first critical step towards a successful resolution.
In the midst of conflict, effective leaders will recognize that everyone is different and as such has different boundaries. Great leaders will take the time to invest in their people, getting to know them on a personal level so they have a firm understanding of such boundaries. This way, notes Bob Reasso, should conflict arise, leaders are prepared on what to do and what to say in order to promote a greater understanding between individuals in terms of what boundaries are being broken.
Before, during, and after conflicts, leaders should be able to nudge their people in the right direction in terms of how they can change their behavior to acknowledge the boundaries of others; this should be done in a genuine, caring way and requires delicacy and patience.
The next step in successful conflict resolution is that of a leader firmly rooting themselves in the issues at hand and promoting a culture of acceptance, tolerance, and understanding. In many cases, even when conflicts have been mitigated, the involved parties do not ever see eye-to-eye: the resulting compromise lacks 100% agreement between them. This; however, should not be viewed as a problem to be solved, but rather an opportunity to promote values. In these moments, leaders have a responsibility to step in and encourage each individual involved in a conflict to respect the opposing viewpoints of the other person and recognize that everyone has the right to their own perspective, in addition to the capability of being able to work with others, even if they don’t entirely agree with that perspective.
As the impartial middleman in virtually every conflict, leaders are responsible for alleviating the tensions between the involved parties as well as the bystanders. By taking a factual approach, speaking things plainly to everyone present, and using discretion as necessary should personal details play a role in the conflict at hand, leaders can do a lot in the way of preventing the escalation of conflict, says Bob Reasso. They can rationalize everyone’s perspective, acknowledging that although there may be a conflict, everything is being done to resolve it in the best way possible.