Leadership and Conflict Management

Adara, Anya, Carla, Chris, Jesslyn, Jon


October 9, 2015

In this wiki, we will be describing leadership and conflict in the workplace. We define leadership as a communication-based activity, meaning the better we are at communication, the better our leadership competence will be. Conflict will be defined as "a felt struggle between two interdependent individuals over perceived incompatible differences in beliefs, values, and goals, or over differences in desires for esteem, control, and connectedness." (Wilmot & Hocker, 2011) We will talk about the differences in the hierarchy of employees and how well employers may or may not manage conflict. There always seem to be problems between employees and their employers. Sometimes, the employer may abuse his or her power as a leader or manager. Some employees may believe they are entitled to more authority than they are given. Employees do not always get along with each other and the way the manager or leader deals with the conflict is important to how well the atmosphere of the workplace will stay positive and productive. We discuss articles about conflict management, dealing with workplace conflict, and look at a study of workplace union and union leadership.

Jesslyn Smith

Types Of Conflict In The Workplace

Leadership In The Workplace

October 16, 2015

To be an effective leader, a person will need to acquire a certain status. Leadership is gained from social influence, so a leader will need to gain credibility and authority to be able to exert certain influence among employees. Many believe that being a leader is an individual role, but without a group of followers, there would be no leadership position needed.

As a leader, you must be prepared to influence, direct and motivate others to perform the tasks needed for the common goal to be met. According to Leadership and Power by Daan Van Knippenberg, Michael A Hogg, leadership is based on status; leaders are those who are most prototypical, in greatest conformity with the most central and representative characteristics of the group (Van Knippenberg, Daan, and Michael A. Hogg, eds. 2004). To define prototypical, Dictionary.com states that it is “someone or something that serves to illustrate the typical qualities of a class” (Dictionary.com, 2015) Out of the five kinds of leadership powers (coercive, reward, legitimate, expert, and referent), referent power would be the most appropriate for the work environment. To have referent power is to have mutual trust and respect between leaders and followers.

The Forbes article is a very good example of how to be a good "leader" or "boss" in your workplace. There is a quote that states "people don't leave companies; they leave bosses" (Forbes, 2015). In large company, it is common for higher-ups to not know their employees on a first name basis, therefore, it is the leaders that are 'in charge' of those employees. A man named Gary Yukl wrote that "personality traits are considered especially relevant to successful leadership" as that is what the follower will respond to (Yukl, Gary). Some traits of a "great" leader mentioned in the article include; their passion, their willingness to help, their honesty, their trust, and their ability to be personable.

To have passion in a workplace is to believe in the job, and find joy in accomplishing a task. When a follower sees their leader acting in such a way, it motivates others to also do well and strive for the same feeling of accomplishment.

A leader's willingness to help can give the follower confidence to go to them for help or clarity on a project. Instead of throwing their followers under a bus when a project goes wrong, the leader will step up and take the blame or will see the mistake ahead of time to stop it from progressing. In addition, willingness can also be a way of sharing the responsibility. Craig L. Pearce says that, "shared leadership occurs when all members of a team are fully engaged in the leadership of the team and are not hesitant to influence and guide their fellow team members in an effort to maximize the potential of the team as a whole" (Pearce, Craig L.). By being willing to share the credit, the leader is allowing the follower to have a say and input into the project.

I feel as if honesty and trust go hand in hand, because to gain trust, you must be honest. Being truthful to followers means admitting to mistakes, poor decisions, and giving honest feedback. This can lead to a relationship between leader and follower that can increase productivity and improve the business.

Lastly, being personable means to be approachable. If a leader wears a face of dissatisfaction it can be off-putting to the followers. So, good leaders need to be easy to relate to and must be able to express and suppress emotions.

Anya Stevenson


Dictionary.com. Dictionary.com. Web. 16 Oct, 2015

Pearce, Craig L. "The Future of Leadership: Combining Vertical and Shared Leadership to Transform Knowledge Work." Academy of Management Executive, 2004. Web. 16 Nov. 2015.

Yukl, Gary. "Leadership In Organisations." Leadership In Organisations. Pearson Education Inc, 2010. Web. 16 Nov. 2015.

Van Knippenberg, Daan, and Michael A. Hogg, eds. Leadership and power: Identity processes in groups and organizations. Sage, 2004.

“7 Things That Make Great Bosses Unforgettable.” Forbes. Forbes Magazine, 15 Oct. 2015. Web. 16 Oct. 2015.

Followership in the workplace

October 22, 2015

The previous two additions to our blog have involved aspects regarding the leader in a workplace situation. While leading is a major part of any type of business, he or she is only as strong as their followers. Do a quick search for these two word followership. At last count, the first word threw up almost half a billion hits (Sangani 2012). Followership is simply defined as "the capacity or willingness to follow a leader" (Merriam-Webster, 2013). This to me is a very basic definition, but it it portrays the idea well. A follower is much more important to a leader than a leader can be to a follower. A leader is only as strong as his first followers. A leaders followers are the voice of reason for the leader. They give praise, criticism, opinions, and ideas on how to make the organization better, and at the same time make the leader look better. This occurs when a follower knows his or her role and is enthusiastic, intelligent, and self-reliant. These are all descriptors of an active follower. A model was developed to place followers in 5 categories (Northhouse 2013). These categories were Alienated, passive, conformist, effective, and pragmatic. Each stage describes positions a follower may fall into. Alienated followers are typically gonna be your skeptics regarding the issue the leader is pushing. Passive followers are the type who need constant supervision and tend to lack responsibility, they would rather observe someone do the work instead of participate. Conformist are the "yes men and women" of the group. They are critical thinkers but will go with the flow to avoid conflict with other members. Effective followers are the true role models to followership. These followers are critical thinkers and are not afraid to voice their opinions. These followers are truly committed to something because it is larger then themselves. A group of effective followers is typically a successful one. Lastly we have the pragmatic follower. These type of followers are unique in regard to their ability to be any of the previous followers we have described. They can change their outlook based off of the situation in efforts to have the best outcome that favors their position on the topic. These followers tend to avoid risk and foster the status quo. 25-35% of followers tend to fall into this bracket (Daft, 2002). Overall a follower has many dimensions and is not something to be seen as small or non relevant to a matter. It is a fact that we are all leaders and followers at some point in our lives. We may play one role more than another, but we all experience the leader/follower exchange at some point.

For my conclusion I will leave you with a quote.

"Leaders are almost never as much in charge as they are pictured to be; followers are almost never as submissive as one might imagine. The state of mind of followers is a powerful ingredient...leadership is conferred by followers" - John Gardner

Jon Macias

Sangani, P. (2012, August 10). Followership is vital to the success of organisations: Bob Jones, Inspirational Development Group. Retrieved November 20, 2015.

Northhouse, P. (2013). Leadership : Theory and practice (6th ed.). Thousand Oaks, California: Sage.

Daft, R. (2002. Management (11th ed.). Upper Saddle River, New Jersey: Pearson Prentice Hall.

Styles of Conflict

October 30, 2015

There are five styles of conflict: avoidance, dominating, compromise, obliging, and integrating. Avoidance is when there is low concern for others and low concern for self. “High avoiders are adept at deferring and dodging the confrontational aspects of negotiation.” (Shell, 2006) It is best to use this style if the issue is not important, if the relationship is not important, if the conflict can be solved without one’s involvement, or if one wants to avoid being influenced. However, using the avoidance style can also seem like one does not care enough about the relationship or conflict. It also lets the conflict grow, setting it up for a later explosion.

Dominating is when there is low concern for others, but high concern for self. Some characteristics are “aggressive and uncooperative behavior – pursuing your own concerns at the expense of others.” (Hocker, et al., 2014) It is useful in situation when a quick decision need to be done, and when the goal is more important than the relationship. It may also demonstrate how committed one is to the conflict and how important the issue is. Nevertheless, domination also make the conflict seem like it only has two sides. This can make one of the parties use covert means.

Compromise is “intermediate in both assertiveness and cooperation: The party tries to arrange it so both parties give some and split the difference to reach an agreement.” (Folger, et al., 2012) Some advantages to this style are that it is not time consuming, it reinforces power balance, and it appears reasonable to both parties. On the other hand, it is also an easy way out of the conflict. It does not let parties think creatively for other options that might satisfy both parties.

Obliging, or accommodation, occurs when one has high concern for others, but low concern for self. It is characterized by having one “set aside his or her concerns in favor of pleasing other people involved.” (Hocker, et al., 2014) It is useful in situations where the issue is more important to one party than the other, or if keeping the relationship was important to one party. It can also minimize the loss, if the party was going to lose anyway. Yet, if both parties are always obliging, they do not test how committed they are to the relationship and resentment may arise. It can also show lack of interest of power from one party.

Finally, integrating, or collaborating, happens when there is high concern for others and high concern for self. This particular style is “cooperative, effective, and focused on team effort, partnership, or shared personal goals.” (Hocker, et al., 2014) Some of the advantages are that it helps create new ideas, respects each party, and both parties gain commitment to the solution. It is most useful for long-term relationships because it builds a relationship and demonstrates both parties can be productive together. Despite its advantages, there are some drawbacks to this style. It is time and energy consuming. One party can also take advantage of this style if they are verbally skilled.

Carla Sinfon Liau Hing


Folger, J. P., Poole, M. S., Stutman, R. K. (2012). Working through Conflict: Strategies for relationships, groups, and organizations (7th ed.). Upper Saddle River, NJ: Pearson.

Hocker J., & Wilmot, W. (2014) Interpersonal Conflict (9th ed., p.13). New York, New York:McGraw-Hill.

Shell, G. R. (2006). Bargaining for Advantage: Negotiation Strategies

for Reasonable People (2nd ed.). New York: Penguin.

Conflict Resolution

November 13, 2015

Now it is time to touch on conflict in the workplace. It is very important for any professional dynamic to have followers and leaders. Another, lesser appreciated aspect is called conflict resolution. The article An evaluation of organizational due process in the resolution of Employee/employer Conflict states that “The utility of internal organizational systems of conflict resolution, or “due process,” rests on the formulation of specific objectives and values, a high degree of decision-maker independence, balanced formality of procedures, and matching types of conflict with means of resolution”(Aram & Salipante JR) A type of procedure mentioned is further expanded by the University of Notre Dame College of Business.

This article breaks down that process into six sections:

1. You should always listen first. Taking the time to digest the information allows the parties to cool down and vent, as well as allowing you to gather information from all sides.

2. Arranging a meeting with all involved parties. This allows everyone the equal opportunity to speak and explain their sides, while simultaneously allowing the opposing parties to hear things from the other side.

3. A good leader avoids bias. Despite the fact that you may agree or disagree with a certain side, it is essential that you keep in mind the fact that you have to be neutral in order to fairly address the situation. If the resolving party chooses to play favoritism it could possibly lead to more issues down the road.

4. Address the issue in a time appropriate manner. If you choose to address the issue too soon it could lead to stir up the emotions all over again. On the other hand; if you choose to wait too long it gives a window of opportunity for the conflict to escalate.

5. Remember that you are stronger together. Remind everyone about how successful you can be when you all work together as one coercive unit, and how every individual plays an important role in those successes.

6. Lastly, acknowledge the good things. This supports a more positive and open environment. It also points out a standard for the other employees to meet.

Each of these six things serves their own purpose and I believe that any situation can be handled and easily resolved with one or even multiple of these methods (University Alliance).

Conflict resolution can be a tricky task to handle. It requires balancing multiple aspects in order to not make a situation worse. However, any quality employee or employer should have at least a rough understanding of resolving conflicts to lead to a smoothly operating environment.

Adara L. Gregory


"Conflict Resolution in the Workplace | Conflict Resolution Techniques." University of Notre Dame College of Business. University Alliance. Web. 13 Nov. 2015.

Aram, John, and Paul Salipante JR. "An Evaluation of Organizational Due Process in the Resolution of Employee/Employer Conflict." Academy of Management Review 6.2 (1981): 197-204. Academy of Management Review. Academy of Management Review. Web. 13 Nov. 2015.

Positive Conflict in the Workplace

While some conflict can put a damper on production, it also creates more opportunities for creative solutions and healthy competitions. Many scholars have hypothesized about the positive effects of conflict, but not many have researched it. Those that have, however, found that conflict only happens under rather narrow circumstances.

In order to properly study such a complex topic, researchers broke workplace conflict into two main types: cognitive task conflict and emotional person conflict. Cognitive task conflict is conflict that arises with the problem as well as how people process and solve problems. Emotional person conflict is conflict that arises from the emotions and relationships involved in the problem. In the study conducted by Kjell Brynjulf Hjertø, it was found that group productivity increased with emotional task conflict, but only when certain general guidelines are followed.

Some general guidelines include:

Keep the group small

The larger the group size, the less likely there will be constructive conflict

Keep communication strong

Make sure messages are being understood

Encourage constructive criticism

Long-term projects require more focus on relationships than short-term projects

Must balance focus between relationships and tasks

Always keep the group’s goals clear

Conflicting goals leads to destructive conflict

Be patient

Groups that have been together longer are shown to have more positive conflict

It takes time to build an united group

The more these guidelines are followed, the more likely any conflict will be constructive.

Many critics question the validity of these studies, as the proof supplied thus far “is rather weak” (De Dreu, 2008). More studies may reveal more about positive conflict.

Anna Calhoun

Works Cited:

Hjertø, Kjell Brynjulf. "The Relationship Between Intragroup Conflict, Group Size and Work Effectiveness." BI Norwegian School of Management Department of Leadership and Organization (2006): n. pag. Norwegian School of Management, Sept. 2006. Web. 17 Nov. 2015.

Cosier, Richard A., and Gerald L. Rose. "Cognitive Conflict and Goal Conflict Effects on Task Performance." Science Direct. Organizational Behavior and Human Performance, Aug. 1977. Web. 17 Nov. 2015.

De Dreu, Carsten K.W. "The Virtue and Vice of Workplace Conflict: Food for (pessimistic) Thought." Journal of Organizational Behavior 29 (2008): 5-18. Researchgate.net. Wiley Interscience, 12 July 2007. Web. 17 Nov. 2015.