conflict resolution skills for leaders

About the author : Valerie Dansereau

There are many skills needed to be an effective leader including the ability to manage conflict whenever it occurs. When a conflict in the workplace is mismanaged, it can affect the morale and productivity of the whole team. Pretending conflict doesn’t exist doesn’t mean the team is working in harmony, and there are several different conflict resolution skills for leaders that can make a difference when disputes need to be confronted and resolved.

Emotional Control

When colleagues are in conflict, they may exhibit dramatic emotional reactions that may range from screaming to crying. If there’s one thing that may do more harm than good when you’re working on resolving a conflict, it’s losing control of your own emotions. Regardless how heated things get, leaders need to remain calm.

Positive Attitude

Feelings of negativity may surround the individuals in conflict and everyone around them. The ability to maintain and project a positive attitude is among the most effective conflict resolution skills for leaders. Injecting humor into an argument sometimes helps to reduce tension and calm those in conflict.

Communicating with Clarity

Resolving conflict often needs to start with determining what caused those in conflict to be unable to get along or to have so much difficulty working through their differences. Disputes can be triggered by confusion over who’s responsible for what. To help prevent conflicts coming from miscommunication, leaders have to make sure they’re making their expectations clear and that team members know their leader is available to answer questions or address concerns at any time.

Active Listening

When you meet with those who are in conflict, you’ll need to be completely focused on the conversation. Try to avoid interruptions by meeting in an area away from other team members and not taking calls during the meeting. Let each of those in conflict express their side of things and while they do so, take notes and ask questions. When each is done speaking, repeat back to them what you’ve heard so they have the opportunity to clarify their meaning.


Causes of conflict may be directly related to work assignments, and they may also be related to other concerns that people have either at work or outside work. Encourage them to communicate with you what’s really bothering them and empathize with their struggles and challenges. Empathetic leaders have a high level of emotional intelligence and can help others to feel better understood.


When team members are in conflict, leaders need the ability to remain objective. Choosing sides is likely to intensify the situation and make it even more difficult to arrive at a peaceful solution.  While it might seem obvious that one person is right and the other is wrong, working through conflict requires objectivity and recognizing that both people may have valid concerns. It’s important to keep an open mind and not jump to conclusions.


Negotiation skills are very valuable in conflict resolution. When members of your team are in conflict, your role may need to be to act as a mediator. By working together to brainstorm possible solutions, you may be able to guide them toward a compromise that works for all concerned.

Willingness to Learn

One of the most important conflict resolution skills for leaders is a willingness to learn. People sometimes think leaders are born knowing how to handle whatever comes up, but leadership skills need to be learned and practiced. In every situation in which people have difficulty getting along, there’s an opportunity to learn more about what works and what doesn’t in resolving conflict in the workplace.

Reach out to Peaceful Leaders Academy to learn more about training in peaceful leadership.

About the author : Valerie Dansereau