The Silver Lining: How Conflict Resolution Strengthens and Grows Leaders and Teams

“Conflict can and should be handled constructively; when it is, relationships benefit.
Conflict avoidance is *not* the hallmark of a good relationship.
On the contrary, it is a symptom of serious problems and of poor communication.”
Harriet B. Braiker (Author)


Conflict. Written or stated alone, this word conjures thoughts of negativity and unpleasantness; however, when paired with Resolution, the gloom is lifted and the dawning of the sunlight necessary for growth can be brilliantly witnessed in this positive union.

To fully understand a concept, theory, etc, it is always best to begin at the beginning. Plainly understanding what Conflict and Resolution are separately and then together, clearly indicates the necessity for their pairing, especially as related to Leadership Growth and Team Development. Understanding exactly how it can be useful in the workplace is prerequisite to growth and development. According to Webster’s Dictionary 1828 online edition, Conflict is defined as “a striking or dashing against; contention; struggling with difficulties; striving to overcome.” Resolution is the noun form of the verb to resolve, indicating “the act or process of unraveling, of disentangling perplexities,” (2017). Armed with the knowledge that Conflict Resolution is positive and affirming - the unraveling and disentangling of contentions against - helps One to effectively evaluate its merit. In working to resolve any issues of conflict and disharmony, while preventing further growth of the potentially negatively impactful toxin, immediate mediation in such situations is essential. In the book, The Essential Guide to Workplace Mediation & Conflict Resolution, co-author Nora Doherty, provides such an excellent working definition that it necessitates a verbatim quote: “Mediation is a structured process whereby an impartial mediator facilitates communication between those in dispute in order for them to understand each other better and for them to come up with mutually acceptable solutions that will improve the working relationship in the future” (2008, p.7). From Doherty’s explanation, it is clear that communication is key to resolution, just as it is in all successful interactions between human beings.

The negative potential of conflict is actually its benefit, because an immediate and intense focus is necessary to resolve the issue(s) which threaten to hurt the team and perhaps the company. Because more than a cursory glance is necessitated, it is a good time for team members, along with managing leaders and an impartial facilitator to be crystal clear and forthright in their communications. As each team member’s insight is important, it is vital that each contribute fully and honestly, while simultaneously displaying respectfulness for the contributions of other members of the team. This is the time to break away from the herd or “Groupthink” mentality and discuss issues of importance from each person’s perspective. Groups and teams are composed of individual members with different strengths and different points of views. While no team can be successful if one member is determined to be counterproductive, the cohesiveness and growth come into play when each individual asserts their uniqueness and contributions to the team - thus making it stronger. It is vital that all parties somehow experience (a) “win.” Being “right” is not worth risking the overall viability of harmonious relationships, especially among leaders and team members. Happy, strong and confident teams, composed of individuals possessing the same qualities, are the strength of a successful business enterprise. Creating an open environment for clear and unjudged communication and insights is imperative for fostering cohesion and halting the negativity of conflict in its tracks. Only allowing the “open forum” of clear communication to be the guiding principle in resolving - and further preventing - disharmony and success disruption is permissible.

References cited:

Conflict. Resolution. (2017). Webster’s Dictionary 1828 Online Edition:

Doherty, N., & Guyler, M. (2008). The Essential Guide to Workplace Mediation & Conflict Resolution : Rebuilding Working Relationships. London: Kogan Page.