Constructive Conflict Resolution: The Role of Leader Personality

Constructive Conflict Resolution: The Role of Leader Personality

Öznur Gülen Ertosun (Istanbul Medipol University, Turkey)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-7998-0058-3.ch017
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The effective resolution of inevitable organizational conflicts has an important role in both individual and organizational output. In influencing and decision making, the impact of leaders is much more important than other employees, so leaders in the conflict resolution process play a critical role in organization. Naturally, the decision-making process is influenced by the personality of the leader. However, ineffective conflict resolution styles damage the fundamental values of the organization such as beliefs, trust, and a sense of belonging, all of which will occur in the organization as well as the numeric outputs of the organization. Although the concepts of conflict, personality, and leadership are often dealt with in the literature, there are few studies examining the relationship between a leader's personality traits and conflict resolution. At such an important point, the possible effects of the personality of the leader should be discussed both theoretically and empirically.
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Bohn (2002) defines leadership as creating a clear vision, instilling employees’ self-confidence, and also providing coordination and communication. Accordingly, leadership, under certain circumstances, is also defined as the process by which a person directs the activities of others in order to achieve personal or group goals (Koçel, 2003: 583). Although leadership is defined in many different forms, the most well-known of these definitions is ‘…the ability to influence others’ (Yukl, 1998).

In acclaimed studies on leadership, the abilities of a leader are directly related to the performances, behavior, and reactions of subordinates (Giberson, 2009). Primarily, successful and effective leadership determine a directive for collective effort and manages, shapes, and develops collective activities in line with this directive (Lather et al., 2009). As Judge and coworkers (2002) stated in their work, “the history of the world was the biography of great men” (Carlyle, 1907, p. 18). This expression implies that history is shaped by extraordinary leadership and also forms the basis for the emergence of leadership theory and the relationship between leadership and personality.

Personal factors that cause individuals to affect organizational values are based on factors such as the status and experience of the individual, so the employees of each position do not have the same influence on an organization. Leadership positioning has the power to influence and even change its judgment on what people should be (Sagiv et al., 2007; D'Souza & Dimba, 2010). The choice of this role is influenced by the personality and characteristic features of a leader. Personality traits and their interaction affect managerial goals, values, ​​and needs as well as leadership behaviors. Thus, the cognitive processes that must be sustained in order to achieve these goals, values and needs, as well as the structure of the interpersonal relations and the ways of doing business, are also influenced by the personality of the leader (Belasen & Frank, 2008).

According to some researchers, another reason why personality is involved in leadership studies is the trait-oriented nature of personality. Personality has a coherent structure in adulthood and therefore has predictability power (Strang & Kuhnert, 2009). In addition, there is a homogenization in the structure of the organization with leaders who spread their characteristics to the enterprise and whose decisions are influenced from their point of view (Giberson, Resick, & Dickson, 2005).

The importance of leadership is particularly evident during crises and harsh conditions, making conflict management a very important capability for leadership. Conflict is part of both daily life and business. As a leader, it is necessary to identify situations that will be subject to conflict and to conclude the conflict in such a way that people can remain integrated. The first step of a leader in conflicts that may arise is to determine what people will tolerate or not and what their responsibilities will be. It is necessary to not only understand boundaries and not to cover-up events but also solve basic conflicts and create trust and good relations in the business environment, as much as possible. It is because long-lasting and ineffectively managed conflicts can lead to physiological, intellectual and emotional problems in the individual sense as well as negative emotions among the people that an undesirable climate in the organization forms.

Key Terms in this Chapter

Model of Five Styles: Some of the categories suggested by some theoreticians who classify conflict resolution methods, the most well-known of these are the Rahim's categories (1. Integrating, 2. Obliging, 3. Avoiding, 4. Dominating, and 5. Compromising).

Big Five: It is the specific five personality characteristics defined by the trait approach theorists as openness, conscientiousness, extraversion, neuroticism, and agreeableness that distinguish the individuals from each other.

Integrating Style: The conflict concluded in such a way that the needs and satisfaction of each of the parties are respected.

Functional Conflict: The dispute between the parties is to produce constructive results such as creativity and development.

Conflict Resolution: It is the decisions and activities to resolve the disputes between the parties.

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