I recently came across a piece of conflict management research that I’d like to share with you. The study was conducted by the Management Development Institute of Eckerd College and found a strong link between an employee’s ability to resolve conflict effectively and perceived effectiveness as a leader with advancement potential.
While the article provided a sketch of the research method and some of the conclusions, this early report didn’t fully define the behaviors investigated or provide a comprehensive review of the project. So, while some of the missing information might help more fully inform our understanding of the outcomes, there’s enough intriguing information to be worth our interest. Here’s a short summary of what they found.
The study concluded that there were strong correlations between certain conflict management behaviors and perceived suitability for promotion (for those of you familiar with Pearson coefficients, they defined strong as .40 or above). These behaviors included:
- Creating solutions,
- Expressing emotions, and
- Reaching out.
Likewise, the research identified behaviors that made some professionals "generally not considered to be effective leaders or suitable for promotion." These behaviors included:
- Winning at all costs,
- Displaying anger,
- Demeaning others,
- Retaliating, and
- Avoidance behaviors.
Without more information about how these behaviors were defined in the research, we can’t help feeling a little vague about what it all means. At the same time, the research suggests that behaviors associated with either highly competitive, aggressive or avoidant conflict styles can be damaging to career advancement. And conflict behaviors typically associated with collaborative, accommodating, or compromising styles appear to enhance career advancement potential.
Interesting stuff. I’ll be watching to see if more work is done on conflict style and career advancement/leadership effectiveness and will keep you updated.