As an object of assessment, a meeting of school officials at the local school board will be reviewed where the members discuss the issue of financing the supply of computer equipment. Analyzing the given event from the perspectives of leadership and conflict management can help highlight specific strengths and weaknesses and determine the value of problem-solving negotiation. The ability to apply leadership skills effectively influences group productivity and helps avoid conflicts of any type.
Conflict Management Perspective
The evaluation of the presented group from the standpoint of conflict management can make it possible to draw conclusions regarding the effectiveness of teamwork and productivity in the joint problem-solving process. According to Adams et al. (2021), there are five basic conflict management styles – avoidance, accommodation, competition, compromise, and collaboration. In the group in question, the collaboration approach was identified, which testifies to productive and adequate communication. At the same time, one should take into account that disagreements are not always counterproductive for solving a specific problem. Adams et al. (2021) cite myths about conflicts and notes that conflict is not always harmful and sometimes is an incentive for problem-solving. In addition, conflicts do not imply personal abuse and do not mean that agreement will be reached if both parties are willing to discuss a specific issue (Adams et al., 2020). Thus, one can apply relevant theoretical aspects to the observed group.
From the perspective of conflict management types, collaboration is the most valuable form of problem-solving. This strategy implies assessing the issue jointly and analyzing the opinions of each party involved, while individual approaches, for instance, avoidance or competition, are egocentric. With regard to concession, the types of accommodation and compromise are similar in their principles since they assume resolution through specific steps in favor of satisfying the necessary conditions. Therefore, to manage conflicts, one should take into account the interests and challenges of each party involved to arrive at a fair verdict. Regarding the group in question, its members may disagree ethically by expressing personal positions emotionally or showing disrespect for others’ opinions. In this case, the method of principled negotiation can be relevant, which, as Zhang and Constantinovits (2017) argue, by “focusing on basic interests, mutually satisfying options and fair standards typically results in a wise agreement” (p. 3). As applied to the group under consideration, an example of principled negotiation could be the analysis of the role of new computer equipment in the educational process and its impact on academic performance as a key factor in successful work.
From a leadership perspective, the meeting of the group in question can be assessed as productive due to a well-chosen style. Adams et al. (2021) note several basic leadership styles – autocratic, democratic, laissez-faire, transactional, transformational, and charismatic. Each of them has unique manifestations; for instance, the autocratic style is an emphasis on a personal role in a team, a transformational one – adaptation and flexibility, a laissez-faire one – passivity, and some other nuances.
In the group under consideration, one can single out a democratic style that has allowed building the process of productive collaboration and the joint discussion of the issue. In general, a group leader’s power can be significant if the authority among colleagues helps organize a productive work regimen. Moreover, leadership is not a static quantity and depends on the ability to react to specific situations. Adams et al. (2021) highlight the most common myths about leadership, for instance, the facts that this is an innate quality, that there is a universal leadership style, and that this is the ability to get other people to do work for oneself. However, all these assumptions are incorrect, and many years of research on this topic prove this. In the observed group, leadership could be improved by combining a democratic style with another flexible strategy, such as transformational leadership. This might provide an opportunity to better perceive the arguments of different participants and evaluate a wide range of positions. Thus, the focus on one principle is a weakness, although, in general, the discussion was productive.
In the observed group, each participant had an opportunity to express a personal position. This means that distributive leadership was maintained within the team. According to Adams et al. (2021), distributive leadership is a concept that assumes each team member’s ability to demonstrate leadership skills. This, in turn, determines the need to possess a specific set of ethical skills to monitor the work of colleagues effectively and impartially. Adams et al. (2021) provide meaningful ethical guidelines for leaders and mentions the importance of being respectful, honest, open, giving in to team goals in favor of personal interests, and some other principles. Qi and Liu (2017), in turn, note that the ability to apply these ethical guidelines allows the leader to “encourage members to learn the boundaries for their behavior,” thereby maintaining effective collaboration (p. 3). In the observed group, the leader upheld the principles of honesty, respect, and integrity. All the information was presented openly and without hiding individual details. In addition, it was announced to the members that each of them could express a personal position. Thus, the basic ethical guidelines were followed at the observed meeting.
The use of adequate leadership, negotiation, and conflict management skills is of high importance in the context of the problem-solving process from a professional and ethical perspective. Observing the group in question has allowed highlighting the characteristic approaches to organizing a joint discussion, and as a weakness, one can pay attention to following one leadership strategy while several effective approaches could be applied. As a recommendation, one can suggest utilizing several styles, for instance, democratic and transformational, to not only maintain a productive discussion but also create a flexible problem-solving algorithm.
Adams, K. L., Galanes, G., & Hoelscher, C. S. (2021). Communicating in groups: Applications and skills (11th ed.). McGraw-Hill Education.
Qi, L., & Liu, B. (2017). Effects of inclusive leadership on employee voice behavior and team performance: The mediating role of caring ethical climate. Frontiers in Communication, 2, 1-9.
Zhang, S., & Constantinovits, M. (2017). A study of principled negotiation based on transactional analysis theory. BRAND: Broad Research in Accounting, Negotiation, and Distribution, 8(2), 3-10.