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Leadership Model through an Effective Communication and Conflict Resolution Structures
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An effective leadership is the one, which motivates its people to attain the highest level of their output without robbing them of their rights. Communication and conflict resolution deals with the interactions among human beings in an organization. Conflict occurs when two or more people hold differing opinions towards an event, phenomenon or person. To have an effective leadership model, there must be a comprehensive conflict resolution mechanism with sufficient communication structures. Proactive approach of leadership anticipates future occurrences that may influence the effectiveness a management style. Reactive approach is an old dimension of leadership whereby leaders make decision after a situation that requires them to do so occur. The model postulated in this paper underscores that an all rounded leadership model should encompass both proactive and reactive approaches.
Leadership Model through an Effective Communication and Conflict Resolution Structures
Business executives as well as scholars have described leadership in various forms. Although the topic encompasses a myriad of concepts and postulations, there are certain basic tenets, which define a good leadership structure. The ultimate objective of all these theories is the attainment of organizational results in the simplest manner possible. This is occasioned by the multiple dynamic constraints facing organizations (George & Jones, 2004). As a result, proactive leaders attempt to device means of coping with new constraints in a future date. As contained in leadership grid, all managerial leaderships are founded on the concerns for productivity and people, as well. Striking a balance between the two constraints is a major concern for many leaders because the two have divergent objectives (Burns, 1998). An effective leadership will look into the concerns of both production and people without bias on either side.
An effective leadership is the one, which motivates its people to attain the highest level of their output without robbing them of their rights. Such a leadership responds in good time whenever necessary (David, 2009). The response is communicated to the target person in various forms like verbal, written or implied. Among the many aspects that define an effective leadership style are communication and conflict resolution. The attributes of a style borrows most of its features from the manner in which information is conveyed from the source to the receiver as well as how divergent views are handled. The way in which these two features are addressed can be successfully used to classify various leadership styles. The two aspects are critical in determining the efficacy of a leadership style adopted by an organization. Although leadership is concerned about how resources of an organization interact with one another, human resources play a vital role in determining the efficacy of a leadership style. The effectiveness of this vital resource has a lot of stake on the overall leadership portfolio. Nevertheless, this does not negate the importance of other resources.
With the information above, this term paper seeks to postulate how effective communication and conflict resolution will result in an effective leadership style. By the end of this paper, there should be a coherent understanding of the extent to which communication and conflict resolution affect the efficacy of leadership. This will be achieved through examining the interactions of various variables of communication and conflict resolution. The two aspects surround how a person or a group of people anticipate to behave in a certain manner and ends up developing behavior aimed at attaining job satisfaction and contentment (Billington, 1997). The model postulated in this paper represents a chronology of events right from the time a person anticipates to behave in a certain manner to the time when the resultant behavior yield satisfaction or conflict with authorities or colleagues. In these sequential interactions of people in an organization, the paper will look at how communication and conflict resolutions would result in a streamlined leadership structure. It moves away from the orthodox techniques addressing leadership in generalized theories. It goes on to put across an argument that modes of conflict resolution and communication are the core features of classifying a leadership genre in an organization (Hackman & Johnson, 2003).
The model underscores the importance of having and effective leadership structure through good communication and conflict resolution. Its argument is founded on the fact that it is not possible to have a successful conflict resolution in an organization without an effective communication at all levels of communication. Since it may not be possible to eliminate conflicts in an organization, seeking the best techniques of solving them will ensure that the organization stay on the course of attaining its goals.
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To discuss this leadership model effectively, it is prudent to establish the grounds of effective communication and conflict resolutions. Communication and conflict resolution deals with the interactions among human beings in an organization. The two aspects deal with how information is exchanged amongst people with an intention of getting a response an achieving given objectives at personal and organizational scope.
Communication is a complex aspect of leadership. Although the word is used often, there is no concise definition even in the context of those who are considered communication gurus. The concept is deeply rooted in the human behavior such that it would be difficult to discuss any leadership model without mentioning communication (Barrett, 2006). It can be said to be the art and science of transmitting information from the source to a recipient. The communication in the scope of this paper is limited to transfer of information from one person to another. The persons in question here fall in the category of either followers or leaders. For the sake of this discussion, the scope of communication will be restricted to a simple model where a sender transfers information to the receiver. This is a simplistic approach of communication forming the foundation of other complex theories.
In an organization where there are many people, there is a high tendency of conflicts coming up. These conflicts could be intentional or accidental. Conflict occurs when two or more people hold divergent opinions towards an event, phenomenon or person. It can also refer to a contest or struggle between people holding opposing values, beliefs, goals, ideas or needs (Bercovitch, 2004). Such differences degenerate into a conflict if the people cannot withstand each other’s different opinions. Since the occurrences of such conflicts are common in workplaces, a shrewd leadership structure has mechanisms of dealing with such disparities in opinion to avert the possibility of interfering with performance. The impact of such differences may be detrimental towards attainment of organizational goals. Conversely, it may be beneficial if managed diligently, thus resulting in a better way of doing things (Wilmot & Hocker, 2001). This paves way for the critical aspect of leadership concerned with averting the detrimental impact of conflict. Conflict resolution is an aspect of leadership that does not necessarily mean that all conflicts will be eliminated but the affected parties will learn to tolerate one another without affecting the productivity (Cathy & Christina, 1996; Dana, 2001). It is also concerned with the techniques of diffusing the differences.
The sections below examine how the two aspects defined above determine the efficiency of a leadership style. The two are interrelated in their scope and application. Conflict resolution is only possible when there is an effective communication between individuals or groups holding differing opinions. Therefore, to have an effective leadership model, there must be a comprehensive conflict resolution mechanism with sufficient communication structures. These factors of an effective communication are detailed in the variable models outlined below.
The following variables constitute core tenets of the model that integrates conflict resolution and effective communication as the most influential way of attaining desirable leadership model. The variables are derived from the manner in which people carry out day-to-day activities with a thought realizing some results.
As stated earlier, conflicts occur due to differences in ideology or failure to communicate in an effective manner. This occurs when a situation falls far much below the expectations of a person. Such constraints determine human behavior at different levels of an organization.
Ideally, there are two opposing views of organizational goals. While the organizational strategy may look into streamlining its operations by minimizing running costs and redesigning way of doing things, individuals are interested in bettering their career growth and maximizing gains through salaries and compensations (Kouzes & Posner, 2002). Both individual’s needs and organization’s requests may not be sharing similar objectives as stated. Such disparity is of paramount importance in determining whether the leadership style in place is sufficiently effective to avert the possibility of these differences degenerating into conflict (Ivancevich, Konopaske & Matteson, 2007). In this respect, an effective leadership structure will avail conditions that will make every party contented without compromising on desired organizational results and individual expectations.
This approach of leadership anticipates future occurrences that may influence the effectiveness a management style. The policy makers who employ this approach in the practice enjoy the benefit of being prepared. Although they may not prepare for all situations, most foreseeable aspects are gathered for in the execution of daily duties. Leaders who choose to pursue this approach will always find themselves satisfied as their followers (Robbins, 2004). Proactive approach creates an environment of certainty thus eliminating chances of suspicion and dishonesty. There are certain variables that employ the aspect of a proactive approach in reinforcing leadership techniques. These include foundational features characterizing the possible behavior of leaders and followers. Such aspects of a proactive approach are discussed below within the context of conflict resolution through effective communication.
Several theories have been put forward to explain what motivates people to behave in a certain manner. Through the theory of reasoned action, it is possible to establish the motivation or rather a driving force that inspires people to behave in a certain manner. Theory of reasoned action proposes that an individuals’ behavior is a factor of an intention to act in a given manner in because of behavioral beliefs, attitude, and subjective norm towards the same behavior (Kondalkar, 2007). Therefore, one of the best methods of predicting behavior is understanding and individual’s intentions. It is the cognitive representation of how an individual is ready to act in a given manner, and it forms a prerequisite antecedent of behavior.
Therefore, an established behavior in a certain manner within an organization can be argued as premeditated and sufficiently informed by what person intents to achieve by being part of an organization. In some cases, such intentions contradict those of leaders thus creating a potential conflict between individuals and organization leadership because of the potential disparity between organization’s requests and individual needs (Hersey, Blanchard & Johnson, 2008). The extent to which individual interests may cause a conflict is a factor of some other variables. These variables form the constraints of a behavior intention whose ultimate impact could be differences in ideology between individuals and organizational leadership.
It is imperative to establish behavior intentions beforehand to avoid the occurrence of conflict. This will applaud the fact that the best stage of resolving a conflict is before it starts. With proactive leadership skills, such undesirable behavior intentions, which may degenerate to a future conflict between the leaders and followers, can be averted by having a robust, accurate and easily accessible communication structure. Most conflicts escalates to unmanageable stages like industrial action, boycott or rioting not because the affected parties desires so but due to failure to avail effective communication channels beforehand. If a leader succeeds in understanding the intentions of his/her potential followers before committing to work together, chances of conflict occurring in the future are low. Of all the conflict resolution techniques, this proactive one is the most effective one. Such an approach will not wait until the damage is done to swing in to action. Conversely, it attempts to resolve a conflict before its occurrence. However, it is a prerequisite for the leaders, and followers to understand the behavior intentions of one another accurately before taking action (Hollway, 2005). Although this is desirable, it is unfortunate to learn that it does not always happen. There is a tendency of either parties acting in a falsifying manner. If either of these parties succeeds in camouflaging the actual behavior intentions, then the conflict resolution will shift to a reactive approach.
While seeking to understand behavior intentions, some organizations have devised comprehensive methods of grilling people before committing to working with them. A perfect illustration of this phenomenon is inherent in the multi stage interviews organized for individuals seeking to become part of an organization. This strategy seeks to establish a workable way of understanding individuals’ intentions to inform further decision-making processes. The success of this approach lies squarely on how effective a chosen communication mode is. In a bid to communicate effectively as a preventive measure for future conflicts, interviewees are usually subjected into written, verbal and pragmatic inquiry. The results of each model are examined for correlation with one another. In this respect, effectiveness of communication is a measure of how best it retrieves information from the candidate to help leaders in decision-making. Having a liberal and multi-directional communication mode helps in obtaining such vital information as behavior intentions of an individual.
Another means of resolving conflict before it occurs is seeking to change the individual intentions. When a leadership system is accurate enough in retrieving information from the followers, then seeking to avert future conflicts would be done by attempting to transform such intentions to favorable ones. Attainment of such information is only possible when there is an effective means of communication.
Expectations and Goals Commitment
Expectancy theory tends to raise an emphasis on goal setting and employee expectations as important aspects of motivation in the workplace. According to the theory, setting of goals enables the employee to beware of what the organization expects from him/her (Droar, 2006). This creates confidence within the workforce thus easing the management process. Goals direct the employees’ energy towards the accomplishment of organizational visions. Expectancy theory argues that the people that perform best are those who are goal oriented. Organizational goals play an important role in directing the actions of both employees and employers. On the other hand, organizations need to set realistic and achievable goals with measurable outcome to enable employees to know what is expected of them. Besides directing employees’ on the attainment of organizational aims, objectives and vision, goal setting promotes the establishment of quality assurance indicators designed for job performance. In an employment relationship, employers and employees usually have their own expectations. Firstly, there are expectations regarding what the employee expects to receive from the organization and what the organization intends to offer to the employee. Secondly, there are expectations regarding what the employee intends to offer to the organization and what the organization anticipates to receive from the employee. Inappropriate goal setting and failure to meet expectations of either party is likely to result in conflicts.
Establishing a common ground will minimize the chances of conflict between the employer and the employee. Prior to commencing an employment relationship, both parties should present their offers and expectations after which negotiations may be necessary (Sidle, 2005). Effective communication is paramount to exploring the needs and expectations of both the employee and the employer. Appropriate goal setting enhances employees’ commitment to organization’s shared vision while unrealistic and unachievable goals set them for failure. Therefore, organizations can minimize or resolve conflicts through setting of realistic and attainable goals as well as taking into consideration employees’ expectations in order to make them as comfortable as possible while still be able to accomplish its ultimate organizational goals (Yukl, 2006).
As stated above, the expectations of different parties in an organization vary according to motivation behind the decision to behave in a certain manner. Apart from averting potential conflicts through negotiations as stated above, policy makers may also find a way of establishing the needs of the followers through a reliable communication channel. Having the policies which favor both the leaders and followers will go a long way in not only establishment of a harmonious relationship but also enhances attainment of organizational goals.
Reactive approach is an old dimension of leadership whereby leaders make a decision after a situation that requires them to do so occur. Reactive leaders end up posting dismal performances as compared to proactive ones. Though not desirable, this approach is sometimes inevitable due to dynamism that comes about leading a group of followers. When unanticipated conflict occur, the concerned parties should swing into action with due diligence to avoid worsening the already bad situation (Lussier & Achua, 2004). In such cases, everyone must employ appropriate communication skills in a bid to restore harmonious coexistence between leaders and followers. The variables outlined below represent how reactive approach may be used to resolve conflicts inherent in human interactions.
Locus of Control
The locus of control is what an individual takes responsibility for the happenings in his/her life. A locus of control reveals the influence of environment/circumstances or individual traits/characters on the control people’s activities. Research suggests that individuals with moderate to strong inner locus of control usually perform better (Vroom & Sternberg, 2002). Expectancy theory argues that managers with an internal locus of control practice participative management styles while those with an external locus of control are authoritative (Komives & McMahon, 2006). People with an external locus of control are prone to stress and clinical depression and tend to be vulnerable to manipulation and abuse. On the contrary, people with an internal locus of control tend to be peaceful and take responsibility for their successes and mistakes. This implies that managers with an external locus of control are more likely to be involved in conflicts than those with an internal locus of control. This is due to the fact employees tend to rebel against an authoritative manager, as opposed to a participative one (Huczynski & Buchanan, 2007). Therefore, placing people with an internal locus of control in managerial positions is one way of minimizing or resolving conflicts in organizations.
The nature of the job description is another potential source of conflict within the work place. This occurs when conflict comes about the nature of job design, leaders or followers should respond by outlining such discrepancies without creating a situation of severing the relationship under threat (Northouse, 2007). There should be a mechanism of constantly monitoring the level of job satisfaction amongst employees. To make these monitoring efforts fruitful, leaders should also communicate their intentions of change, expectation or disappointments for easy corrective actions in good time (Guastello, 1995). Three aspects detailed below will determine the extent of job design-related conflict.
The level of freedom demanded by a follower is a potential source of conflict. Whereas some employers will want to be in charge of what goes on under their stewardship, some employees would like to enjoy the freedom that comes alongside being a professional in a certain field. These two divergent views are equally important in the realization of organizational goals. Therefore, the leadership in such organization must look into these concerns bearing in mind that both the leaders and followers have a stake in attaining success. This can only be attained by creating a communication mechanism that collects the views of emerging issues to aid in better policy formulation (Greenleaf & Spears, 2002). For the sake of confidentiality, an organization may choose the use of suggestion box to allow them collect all pertinent issues regarding job design satisfaction.
Equity, Valence and Rewards
The equity theory demands that employees receive their fair share for skills and efforts put towards the achievement of organizational outcomes. Equity focuses on equivalence between input and output. Valence is the positive or negative values of people regarding outcomes, whereas reward indicates people’s desire for outcomes and rewards for efforts and skills put on their jobs. Imbalances and incongruence between input and output presents a ground for de-motivation and inequity and probably leads to conflicts. The equity theory argues that feelings of inequity originate from a person’s evaluation as to whether he/she gets adequate compensation for his/her contributive inputs (Champoux, 2004).
As part of conflict resolution, equity ensures everyone benefits from organization’s outcomes but with varying proportions. Most employers offer rewards or promotions to their best employees. This creates a sense of satisfaction among the employees and motivates them to work harder thus minimizing conflicts (Miner, 2005). Currently, employees have been empowered and thus able to engage in protests whenever equity issues are violated. Organizations have often employed communications to inquire the areas with inequity. Hence, it is worth noting that equity is an essential element of conflict resolution.
An effective leadership model should also consider equipping its workforce through the provision of necessary support. Organizational support is a critical leadership variable whose impacts are of far-reaching capacity in an organization. It includes all the prerequisite conditions and resources availed by an organization in a bid to realize its objectives. An organization that neglects this responsibility discourages productivity by not availing the necessary incentives to aid in execution of day-to-day activities (Kellerman, 1994).
Organizational support may take the form of material or immaterial offers. Immaterial offers like motivation, incentives and promotion are neglected by many organizations who believe that providing employees with what they just need is the main factor of performance. Taking this dimension of the variable will result in a tremendous performance, which could have been hardly realized in the absence of the same.
Research Method of Testing the Model
The model outlined above looks at leadership in two dimensions. One of the sides is the proactive approach and the other one is reactive perspective of leadership. The test of this model is aimed at establishing whether it makes leadership any better or not. Both qualitative research methods is useful and relevant in the examination of the models’ efficacy.
While using qualitative methods, researcher may select key indicators of effective communication and conflict resolution techniques through a questionnaire whereby the postulate variables are ranked in a scale of five according to the perceptions of the respondent (Winston, Fields & Cabanda, 2011). The high values should be designed to imply positive result while a low score reveals that the variable is not contributing to the performance and satisfaction of followers or employees (Klenke, 2008).
Globalization, open market system, technology advancement and people’s desire to excel in their fields of work has led to an increase in competitiveness and resultant work-stress. This has made the management of human behavior an important aspect in any given organization. Leadership and motivational theories have been employed to create a positive work environments and consequently increase productivity, organizational growth and job satisfaction of employees. Scientific advancement has made management of human resources more challenging (Jackson & Mathis, 2007). This situation has facilitated designing of appropriate situational models for managing human behaviors in diverse conditions. Although there is no specific model for managing human behaviors, standards models can be modified to match various situations and work settings (Spillane & John, 2004). New ways of managing organizations have emerged following the diminishing of the traditional ways. Redesign of work and organizational structure has now become the order of the day, and this has posed more stresses on employees. This calls for better leadership styles in order to strike a balance between increasing organizational performance and promoting employee satisfaction.
This model has discussed conflict resolution and communication as critical aspects to effective leadership model. The model underscores that an all rounded leadership model should encompass both proactive and reactive approaches (Torbert, 2004). It also managed to point out that nearly all aspects of leadership circumnavigates the tenets of conflict resolution and effective communication. All the variables outlined above draws their objectivity from the manner in which they handle issues pertaining to conflicts management and transfer of information.
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