The Goodness of ‘Bad’ Conflict

When Surf advertisement punch lined stain is good, it did not go well with a few as stain synonymizes dirt.  But the ad taught us how pain could be turned into power!! One tends to draw a parallel between the surf story and the conflict. Be it in life or work, conflict raises many nays. But if properly managed, these nays could be made yays. And the toil for this change gives us the pluck to steer the journeys through challenges.


As has been advocated by John Brackett of Smash Balloon, managing conflict is an inherent responsibility of any leader. Problems need to be addressed immediately, failing which they turn into massive conflicts which are hard to deal with1.

How do conflicts pop up?

According to Christy L. Foley, founder of Orlando, an e-mediation service, conflicts arise out of 2:

  • Miscommunication
  • Failure: to appreciate diverse viewpoints
  • Differences: in work ethics
  • Reluctance: to foster diversity management.

Conflicts, if not managed properly may lead to confusion, burnout and complaints as there is a breakdown of communication, erosion of trust and overt display of aggression.

Good or Bad?

One may wonder if conflict isinnately negative.Well the answer is no. Why?

  • As has been touted by Jerry Hirshberg, prominent auto designer, accordance may not necessarily lead to best ideas. Conflicting perspectives provides an opportunity to explore.
  • Google fosters creativity and innovation by providing psychological safety to its employees to channelize their diverse ideas3.
  • David Novak, cofounder of Yum! Brands opines that it is conflict rather than consensus which promotes better decision making, provided the leaders can accept and address conflicts strategically.

So what is important is the way the leader values the conflict.

Managing Conflicts

Gartner’s CEO survey research in 2021 was conducted on more than 400 CEOs about how they dealt with conflict. The results revealed three common styles which are being used:

  • Consulting Style: The most common style.  Here opinions are ascertained from the executive team and CEO makes the final decision.
  • Questioning Style: Used by 25% of the CEO’s surveyed. Here the leader constantly asks relevant questions. This enables the team to steer through unfamiliar decision.
  • Delegation Style: Used by 10-12% of the respondents. The task of finding the solution is delegated to the team duly monitored by the leader.

The Ideal Style

Each style having its own pros and cons, every leader need to identify what works for them and their team. Libby Rothschild, CEO of the Dietitian Boss makes use of key performance indicators for monitoring and evaluating employee progress. This quantitative data is used as an input by the leaderto initiate discussions while managing conflict1. Using metrics helps the leaders to get over the emotions while mediating difficult conversations.


Effective conflict management requires that the leader helps the individuals caught up in conflict to see the bigger picture and subordinate their individual interests to the larger interest of the organization. It is equally important to influence the mental models which influence the way they see a problem. Leaders need to fall back upon their emotional intelligence to comprehend where the other party is coming from and use a judicious mix of consulting, questioning and delegation, not to forget that all this requires active listening and empathy.

Learners’ Opportunity     

Conflict management is an important interpersonal skills for leaders. For more details check our program @

Discussion Question        

Do you think prevention is better than cure in the case of conflict? Why?

Key Words

#HumanResources #LeadershipAndChangeManagement #onlinembacourse #mbabestcourses #onlinembaprograms #elearning #learningsimplified #onlinembaforworkingprofessionals #entrepreneurshiponlinemba

Source Article

Expert Panel Forbes Council Members-Nine Important ‘Don’ts’ When Mediating Employee Conflict YEC Council Post- Forbes -Feb 2, 2022                                             

Kathy Gurchiek -How to identify and Address Conflict in the Workplace-SHRM- 14 April, 2022.

Dr. Jason Wingard-Conflict as a Catalyst for Corporate Success- Forbes-28 September, 2018.

Tina Nunno &Mark Raskino-Navigate the Politics of CEO Conflict Resolution-Gartner Research-                  26 April, 2021

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