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3 Reasons Why Leaders Aren't Resolving Conflicts

When Leslie and I decided to create our workshop, we sat down and put our heads together to create something that our students could practice and they would benefit from immediately. Leslie has motivated successful technology teams for over 20 years at companies such as IBM, Compaq, Novell, and several startup software companies. She led successful joint technology development efforts with Sun and Intel, and consulted with numerous small and large companies, including Freescale, 3M, Lek Pharmaceuticals, and Hewlett-Packard, on projects in the Americas, Europe, and Asia. Her expertise is in the human side of innovation and engineering leadership. Combining that with my experience in emotional resilience, we came up with an interactive workshop that inspires leaders to practice resolving conflicts while having fun.

One pattern we noticed while speaking at international tech companies and conferences recently is that managers, supervisors, and leaders are struggling to engage team members. According Gallup, only 13% of employees worldwide are considered engaged. And many data show that an engaged workforce is what drives organizational success. So we identified 3 common problems that leaders may struggle with when engaging employees to solve communication conflicts:

  1. They Lack Active Listening Skills: Leaders may struggle with actively listening to their employees during communication conflicts, which can hinder effective conflict resolution. Active listening involves not only hearing the words being spoken but also understanding the underlying emotions, motivations, and perspectives of the parties involved. When leaders fail to actively listen, they may miss crucial information and misunderstand the real issues at hand, leading to incomplete or ineffective conflict resolution efforts. A study by Morreale, Spitzberg, and Barge (2007) titled "Human Communication: Motivation, Knowledge, and Skills" emphasizes the importance of active listening as a fundamental communication skill that contributes to effective conflict resolution.

  2. They have Emotional Intelligence Challenges: Leaders may struggle with managing their own emotions and the emotions of their employees during communication conflicts. Emotions can run high during conflicts, and leaders who lack emotional intelligence may struggle to regulate their own emotions or effectively address the emotions of others. If emotions are running high, then they will struggle to listen without judgement. This can result in miscommunication, escalated conflicts, and damaged relationships.

  3. They ignore Power Dynamics and Biases: Leaders may face challenges in managing power dynamics and addressing biases that may exist among employees during communication conflicts. Power imbalances, whether real or perceived, can affect how employees communicate and interact during conflicts. Additionally, leaders may have their own biases that could influence their perception and handling of conflicts, leading to unfair treatment or ineffective resolution. Power dynamics can influence communication and behavior in conflict situations. Leaders need to be aware of their biases and manage their power effectively.

In our workshops and online events, learners get information about ways to cultivate more emotional intelligence, how to question biases, and a framework for examining conflicts. Then we role-play real-world scenarios from the corporate engineering environment. We've talked to employees who say their supervisors REALLY need our workshops. We've talked to C-suite executives who say their team REALLY needs our workshops. Bottom-line: everyone could stand to learn better communication techniques. We provide a safe, fun environment to practice the skills discussed during class.

If you are looking for a place to practice conflict communication skills, then Lucky and Leslie have the place for you to level-up your career skills! Sign up for our mailing list on our home page for news & updates. We will continue to facilitate in-person workshops while hosting our monthly Zoom practicum online. Looking forward to seeing you there!


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