LEADING CHANGE THROUGH CONFLICT: EXECUTIVE LEADERSHIP DEVELOPMENT, FIU

 

DISENO de SISTEMAS de SOLUCION DE CONFLICTOS Agosto de 2001

EXECUTIVE LEADERSHIP DEVELOPMENT, FIU

Proposal by Dr Nora Femenia,

Fulbright Conflict Resolution Expert,

Faculty at the Center for Labor Studies and Research, FIU

 

At the core of their strategic priorities and initiatives, organizations now should be including innovative leadership concepts.

This paper presents a new model for leadership training including a core of workplace conflict management skills, acknowledging the realities of team conflict; workplace aggression and violence, and larger organizational crises.

Innovative leadership concepts generated from a labor relations approach and from research on organizational retaliatory behaviors, offer a new set of options to transform the quality of team interactions and promote cooperation over competition.

A REVIEW OF BASIC CONCEPTS

I.- Conflict in Organizational Teams

It is no surprise that today’s managers and employees still overwhelmingly view conflict as negative and something to be avoided or immediately resolved. This attitude prevents dealing with the solvable causes of conflict and stops teams from learning how to work together generating consensual decision-making.

Actual research focuses on how effectively managing team conflict can improve organizational performance and growth through enhanced understanding of various viewpoints and creative options. For this to happen, the usual views of conflict (as destructive) and usual ways of managing (by denial or repression) have to change.

Recent research shows the need for a more radical view of the leader as emotional manager and meaning constructor. If individual or teams’ needs are  frustrated, then workplace conflicts build on anger, then escalate to the urgency of getting even, or planning revenge, and (if revenge is not possible), then passive aggression or sabotage can appear. In large scale workplace aggression as in mobbing, harassment and bullying, there is now more research pointing to the need for different solutions beyond.

If conflict is constructed because team/individual needs are not satisfied (face, appreciation, respect, recognition, connection, etc) then the leader has to manage frustrated emotions first, to be able to go back to the “goals” orientation of leadership.1

II.- Two Current Models of Team’s Conflict:  

Two types of conflict are predominantly studied in organizations. Guetzkow and Gyr (1954) proposed that both “affective” and “substantive” conflicts exist. Affective conflict refers to conflict in interpersonal relations, while substantive conflict is conflict involving
the group’s task. Priem and Price (1991) distinguished between cognitive, task-related conflicts and social-emotional conflicts, characterized by interpersonal disagreements not directly related to the task. Also Coser (1956) hypothesized goal-oriented conflict, in which individuals pursue specific gains, and emotional conflict, which is projected frustration with interpersonal interactions.

Team members distinguish between task-focused and relationship-focused conflicts and how these two types of conflict differentially affect their work group outcomes.

Summarily described, it is necessary to deal also with relationship conflicts because they do interfere with task-related efforts given that members focus on reducing threats, increasing power, and attempting to build cohesion rather than working on the assigned task.2

III.- Leaders’ own conflict style and destructive behaviors: toxic leaders and their management of workplace harassment, bullying and mobbing.

Manager’s generated conflicts have a negative impact on job performance. They affect:

1) Ability to perform shared tasks, if there is confrontation and anger;

2) There is no availability of contrasting opinions, because of fear;

3) Trust and candor disappear and suspicion takes over;

4) Aggression/violence intimidate and scare other employees.3

All those consequences are moderated by leaders’ influence, either by doing or by avoiding direct intervention. From here appears the need to redefine leadership role as including an emotional management of interpersonal workplace conflicts. 4

IV.- Taking care of teams’ emotional management

Even when the organization is not undergoing some planned change process, there is a growing need to develop transformational leadership and emotional management of workplace teams

Transformative leadership and change management are linked to human needs satisfaction. They comprise effective recognition of workers’ performance and emotional management of the human need for psychological empowerment.

Transformational leadership is positively related to innovative behavior only when psychological empowerment is high; thus the need to reinforce satisfaction of human needs.5

Psychological empowerment includes also “cooperative interdependence” when team members can express their various views directly, explore and consider opposing positions open-mindedly, and integrate them into new solutions that they are committed to implement.

Experimental research has documented these constructive controversy dynamics and field studies have shown that they impact employee commitment by empowering leadership, innovation, quality customer service, and other vital organizational outcomes.6

CONTENTS OF THIS PROPOSAL:

This paper includes three proposals for the development of new leadership content in several academic offerings by the FIU Center for Leadership:

a) Content for the first point of the FIU Center for Leadership’s mission: “To engage in cutting edge research in the area of leadership development”  (See Program below)

b) Inclusion of a new Program in the list offered by the Center for Leadership:

a. Leading Decisions

b. Leading Change Through Conflict (new Program)

c. Women on the Move

d. Custom Workshops

     (Program to be developed)

c) Module of “Leading Change Through Conflict” included in the LEADING DECISIONS: EXECUTIVE LEADERSHIP DEVELOPMENT SEMINAR (2011)   (Program to be developed)

LEADERSHIP, CHANGE AND THE TRANSFORMATIONAL MANAGEMENT OF ORGANIZATIONAL CONFLICT

(3 days Skills Training Seminar)

OBJECTIVES:

  • Raise participants’ awareness of the destructive consequences of ill-managed conflict in their own organizations;
  • Train managers in recognizing their own conflict style and identify the team’s response to their style and consequences for team productivity;
  • Provide managers with new tools to integrate transformational skills in their own leadership style;

OUTLINE:

  •  Creating and supporting a needs-based shared vision; 
  • Maintaining team’s emotional balance while managing stress;
  • Differentiating between task and relational conflicts; 
  • Balancing performance goals with team cohesion;
  • Implementing methods of conflict management avoiding reprisal, retaliation, and revenge
  • Managing based on teams’ needs satisfaction and teams’ performance

TRAINING METHODS:

  • 3-DAYS TRAINING CONTENT PREPARATION, INCLUDING ROLE-PLAYING
  • SURVEYS AND PARTICIPANTS’ SELF-EVALUATION OF CONFLICT STYLE, CONFLICT REACTION AND CHANGE POTENTIAL;
  • COACHING OF INDIVIDUAL PARTICIPANTS ON PREPARATION OF THEIR OWN CONFLICT INTERVENTION PLAN.

GENERAL  REFERENCES:

Jane E. Dutton, Peter J. Frost, Monica C. Worline, Jacoba M Lilius, and Jason M. Kanov (2002) “Leading in Times of Trauma,” Harvard Business Review

Barton, Laurence (2008) Crisis Leadership Now. A real-world guide to preparing for threats, disaster, sabotage and scandal. New York: McGrawHill

Roberto, Michael A. (2005) Why Great Leaders Don’t Take Yes for an Answer. Managing for Conflict and Consensus. New Jersey: Wharton School Publishing

Caruso, David & Salovey, Peter (2004) The Emotionally Intelligent Manager. How to Develop and Use the Four Key Emotional Skills of Leadership, San Francisco, CA, Josey

Gerzon, Mark, (2006) Leading Through Conflict: How Successful Leaders Transform Differences into Opportunities. Harvard Business Review Press

REFERENCES:

1 CARSTEN K.W. DE DREU, (2008) “Point/ The virtue and vice of workplace conflict: Counterpoint/food for (pessimistic) thought,” in Journal of Organizational Behavior J. Organiz. Behav. 29, 5–18 Published online 12 July 2007 in Wiley InterScience (www.interscience.wiley.com) DOI: 10.1002/job.474

2 Raver, Jana L. & Barling Julian “Workplace Aggression and Conflict: Constructs, Commonalities and Challenges for Future Inquiry,” in The Psychology of Conflict and Conflict Management in Organizations, De Dreu, Carsten K.W. & Gelfand, Michele (2008) New York: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates, Taylor and Francis Group, pps 211-244.

3 M. SANDY HERSHCOVIS, & JULIAN BARLING (2009) “Towards a multi-foci approach to workplace aggression: A meta-analytic review of outcomes from different perpetrators,” in Journal of Organizational Behavior J. Organiz. Behav. 31, 24–44 (2010) Published online 22 May 2009 in Wiley InterScience (www.interscience.wiley.com) DOI: 10.1002/job.621

4 Shelley D. Dionne, Francis J. Yammarino, Leanne E. Atwater, William D. Spangler (2004) “Transformational leadership and team performance” in Journal of Organizational Change Management  VOL 17, Issue 2 (pp. 177-193)

5 Oluremi B. Ayoko, & Victor J. Callan (2009) “Teams’ reactions to conflict and teams’ task and social outcomes: The moderating role of transformational and emotional leadership,” in European Management Journal, Elsevier Ltd. Doi:10.1016/j.emj.2009.07.001

6 Einarsen, S., Aasland, M.S., & Skogstad, A. (2007) “Destructive Leadership Behavior: a definition and a conceptual model.” in Leadership Quaterly 18, 207-216

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