Becoming a Conflict Competent Leader
Chapter one, titled “The What and Why of Conflict Competent Leaders”, provides an overview of the term “conflict competent” and sets the scene for the need of conflict competent leaders in organizational settings. Runde and Flanagan use a specific definition of conflict to focus their book around. The definition, adapted from Capobianco, Davis and Kraus, describes conflict as “any situation in which people have incompatible interests, goals, principles, or feelings” (Runde & Flanagan, 2007, pp. 4). Therefore, a conflict competent leader understands the principles, strengths and weaknesses of conflict and models appropriate learned behavior to foster a healthy organizational environment (Runde & Flanagan, 2007). From these definitions, Runde and Flanagan propose multiple ideas about conflict. Some of these thoughts indicate what recent research has suggested – that not all conflict is negative. Although this theme of positive conflict has been stressed numerous times, both the training and skill sets for people to handle positive conflict are extremely underdeveloped. Reflecting upon the statistic that most managers say – that 20-40% of their time in a work setting is spent dealing with conflict – the authors find it crucial to develop conflict competencies for leaders (Runde & Flanagan, 2007). Also described in this chapter is the need for leaders to study and develop four core skills. These skills include the understanding of conflict competency, dynamics of conflict, personal reaction to conflict, and the ability to foster constructive responses to conflict (Runde & Flanagan, 2007). It is not an expectation that leaders are experts in conflict competency and human behavior; however, it is suggested that they are familiar with key terms and notions that dictate controversies. In addition, self-awareness is crucial for all leaders to achieve. With this self-awareness, conflict...