Conflict Management at the Executive Level

Conflict-Management

Claim your responsibility

A leader reaches their post in the corporate structure because they’re strong; strong-willed, strong-minded, strong-armed. While those qualities may be a great asset to the job in many circumstances, it may be a detriment when it comes to conflict.

Even the most seasoned leaders can find themselves butting heads with other company decision-makers. With so much at stake and such powerful people at the wheel, any conflict big or small could cause quite the office battle.

But it’s important for leaders to keep their cool and still be able to carry out the tasks and people-managing their job requires. Here are some things to keep in mind if you’re facing an executive conflict of your own.

Acknowledge what this conflict is costing you

Your power of influence could be compromised while in the throes of an executive conflict. Even if you’ve managed to keep your struggle quiet, employees can tell when their leaders are under the wrong kind of pressure. How are your direct reports looking at you? Is your management influence taking a hit?

How is your boss perceiving your behavior? Are you carrying yourself well during this contest? Don’t let the disagreement cost you your job or your respect. Stay connected to your day-to-day priorities which should include your colleagues.

Claim your responsibility

It’s hard to admit fault, especially if you really haven’t committed any powerful wrongdoing. But it’s important to adjust your perspective to include your own shortcomings and how they may have an effect on the conflict. Have you broken any agreements or fell back on accountability? Now’s the time to claim your part in this conflict.  Admitting to wrongdoing and working toward fixing it is always a mutually beneficial thing to do, so be sure you’re in good standing with your colleagues, direct reports and manager.

Have the Talk

It may be time for you and your disagreeing colleague to sit down mano-a-mano and discuss the conflict face-to-face. It should be possible to resolve an executive conflict internally; after all, leading by example is something you’ve mastered by now. If you’re taking a meeting to discuss the challenges at hand, be sure to adhere to a few peace-keeping guidelines:

  • Avoid accusations – there’s nothing productive about egging someone on. You may think you’re right, but that doesn’t make the other party any more wrong.
  • Use “I” statements – you can’t speak for anybody but yourself.
  • Set a goal – consider something you can agree on: a goal to reach a solution. Don’t rehash your disagreeing viewpoints, speak productively with the best interest of the company and employees in mind.

Conflict is always a challenge no matter the time, place or risks involved. It’s especially hard when you’re in a position of authority and all eyes are on you. And when the benefit of the company is at stake because executives can’t find common ground, a lot more than just your pride is on the line. So take it slow and remember you’re all experienced, educated human beings – you’ve got this.

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