By Colleen Kettenhofen

Real generosity toward the future consists in giving all to what is present.”
~Albert Camus

Leaders in today’s hyper-competitive organizations often wear many hats. However, when considering the welfare of the organization as a whole, one of the most critical roles for any leader is “conflict mediator.” Whether it is conflict occurring between groups, individuals, or a combination of groups and individuals, when conflict will not simply resolve itself, a leader must step in and help bring about conflict resolution. An effective leader knows sometimes they have to put on their Conflict Mediator Hat and how best to use both their formal and informal authority to bring about the best resolution.

Staying Neutral and Stepping Away When You Can’t

A key element in conflict mediation centers on the mediator remaining neutral during the entire mediation process. If the leader is believed to favor one side of the conflict or the other, both parties will not place their trust in the leader as a mediator. This can be a very fine balancing act for leaders, especially if they’ve taken a stance on issues in the past involved in the dispute. For this reason, an effective leader will acknowledge when they may be perceived as favoring one side of the conflict and ask another organizational leader to step in as mediator. Stepping away from a conflict when there’s perceived bias is sometimes the most responsible thing an effective leader can do.

Gathering and Analyzing the Facts

Effective leaders as conflict mediators must also gather all of the pertinent facts surrounding the conflict, before they can begin the mediation process. It’s critical for the leader to understand the conflicting personalities and competing goals that play a factor in the conflict. In some instances, the parties involved may simply not like or respect one another. One party’s goals may be contrary to the other. Only through a full understanding of these often-intertwined facets will the leader be able to help mediate a resolution between the two parties.

Making a Decision

An effective leader understands their decision as a conflict mediator often has ramifications that reach beyond this single point of conflict. The decision made could of ripple effects that affect organizational policy and goals. With any conflict within any organization, there is always a third party involved – the organization itself.

For this reason, any decision made by the leader must include two components. It must be perceived to be as fair as possible to the two direct parties involved. This may be a “win-win” solution for the parties, or one where the outcome is more favorable to one party than the other. However, equally as important, the resolution must also take into account the interests of the organization, the organization’s mission and its goals. This means sometimes it’s appropriate to seek the advice of other leaders, to get their feedback, to ensure the best resolution decision is made.

CREDENTIALS: Colleen Kettenhofen is an international workplace and employee management expert, award-winning corporate trainer, and conference keynote speaker. A media veteran, she has appeared on numerous radio shows around the country and has written more than 40 popular articles on diverse workplace issues. Colleen has delivered more than 1,100 entertaining programs in 48 states and five countries. She is the author of 10 published audio programs and two books including SECRETS YOUR BOSS ISN’T TELLING YOU.

Colleen Kettenhofen is available for keynotes, breakout sessions, and seminars by calling (971) 212-0479.