Becoming an effective leader

Supporting Skills to Become an Effective Leader

Conflict Management



‘Friction or opposition resulting from actual or perceived differences or incompatibilities. Conflict may have negative as well as positive characteristics’


(The Business Dictionary)



The positive characteristics associated with conflict are often applied in a business context for developing creative and innovative thinking. However, when the characteristics are negative, they often lead to stress. Managing conflict requires assertive behaviour and communication, along with an ability to separate the issue from the ‘person’. Resolution of the issue will often naturally reduce the adverse behaviours that people display in conflict.

In conflict, there tends to be a distinction between the 3 principal types of behaviour people display, highlighted on the diagram on below, from submissiveness through to aggressiveness, with assertiveness – considered to be the most effective behaviour – sitting in between.























Assertiveness is based on the belief that, in any situation, you have needs to be met, the other parties involved have needs to be met and that you have something to contribute. This involves:


·    Not violating other people's rights whilst standing up for your rights; and

·    Appropriately and honestly articulating your feelings, needs, and wants, along with expressing your beliefs.




Submissiveness betrays a desire to avoid conflict and to please others. It is based on the belief that in a given situation other people's needs and wants are more important than yours. Also, that the other person has rights but you do not, and that you have nothing to contribute. This involves:


·    Not standing up for your rights or doing so in a way that others can easily disregard them;

·    Articulating your feelings, needs, wants, opinions, along with your beliefs, in an apologetic, self-effacing and/or unassuming manner; and,

·    Not  honestly  expressing  your  feelings,  needs  and  wants,  opinions  or  your be





Aggression reflects a belief that the aggressive person’s rights, opinions and wants are more important than those of others. The aggressor tries to win at the expense of others, believing that he or she has rights and something to contribute but other people do not. Aggressiveness involves:


·    Violating the rights of others in the way that you stand up for your own rights;

·    Ignoring or dismissing other people’s feelings, needs, wants, opinions, or beliefs;


·    Inappropriately articulating your opinions, needs and wants.

Developing Assertiveness


The following approaches help in developing assertiveness at work:


·    Set clear objectives and identify desired outcomes;

·    Avoid saying phrases that betray uncertainty in your stance such as ‘is that all right?’

·    Maintain good eye contact;

·    Actively listen;

·    Maintain a positive attitude, practise turning everything into positives;

·    Anticipate reactions and have prepared responses;

·    Plan meetings thoroughly and make notes of key points you want to ensure you get across;

·    Respond rather than react, pause before responding (try counting to 3). Accept what is said while focusing on your main objective;

·    Use ‘I understand, however,  in my view (using ‘in my view’, by definition, you cannot be wrong!) and this is what I want to happen’;

·    Use ‘how do you feel about ......?’

·    Consider saying, ‘if you are prepared to do A, I might be prepared to do B’;

·    Empathise whilst remaining impartial;

·    Ensure your non-verbal cues (body language) send a message of confidence;

·    If you are at an impasse, try to offer something or find a compromise; and,

·    Consider waiting until the main points are made before giving away anything.