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The renowned business strategist, Peter Drucker, once pointed out, "The most important thing in communication is hearing what isn't said". Executives in top tier management need to realize this for optimum Conflict Management. The unspoken can often hold the key to solving burgeoning issues. In a nutshell, Conflict Management is a vital part of Strategic Planning and Operational Excellence. Any business that is serious about achieving success on a global scale needs to recognize this as part of their standard business formalities.

Understanding the Cause

A majority of conflicts within an organization stems from differences in perspective. As a C-level executive, it is imperative to identify the root cause of the conflict and strategize steps to mitigate or, preferably, eliminate it. Ensuring clear lines of communication and maintaining an open-door policy can greatly aid this initiative.

Conflict Management Styles

Choices define results. It's essential that a C-level executive identifies the conflict management style that best suits their organization. Here are the primary five:

The Distinct Role of the C-Level Executive

Executives carry the weight of the organization, hence managing conflict comes under their purview. Starting from Risk Management to ensuring a Performance Management system is in place, every division counts. The prime responsibility is to foster an environment where disagreements are not suppressed but rather addressed and resolved constructively. This involves facilitating dialogue and listening with the intent to understand rather than respond.

Best Practices for Conflict Management

While confusion is a stepping stone to learning, prevention is always better than cure. Here are strategies that top-notch executives make a part of their ethos for managing conflicts:

Cultivating Conflict Education

Education and learning are integral to the Digital Transformation journey of an organization. Acknowledge that conflicts are part and parcel of a dynamic work environment. The focus should be on transforming these potentially negative scenarios into growth opportunities.

In Summary

Managing conflict requires a blend of knowledge, judgement, wisdom and leadership skills. An important dimension of leadership is the ability to recognize, feel and channelize the energy created by conflict, thereby transforming destructive forces into cooperative ones. Remember, it is not conflict resolution, it's conflict management.


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