A key question that every leader needs to answer is this: Is conflict good or bad for the organization? The answer is “It depends.” When asked: “Is conflict good?” the most likely response would be “no” for a variety of reasons. Conflict impedes progress while it consumes resources, takes time, has the potential of damaging relationships and future outcomes, and so grows the list. In reality conflict is a necessary prerequisite for excellence. Interestingly, managing conflict is a daily event for everyone and often conducted without formal knowledge, which suggests that everyone learns by doing to some extent. This informal, experience- based knowledge must be recognized and built upon using formal methods.
Effectively managing conflict involves two general themes: Knowing what skills are required and what behaviors must be avoided, combined with firsthand experience. These skills can be described, and even taught, but experience must be obtained.
This course has 6 parts describing what the student should understand and be able to accomplish upon completion of the course. The “Learning Objectives” are supported by describing the critical elements of managing conflict, followed by a treatment of classical approaches and finishing with “nuanced methods” and “Tricks of the Trade.” The Classical Methods differ from the “Tricks of the Trade” in that they’re more aligned with what’s been described in the literature as effective. The “Tricks of the Trade” are those skills that have been proven effective by experience but are not often described anywhere. Finally, the course will be summarized with key take away items that each student should focus on using in managing conflict.
Much has been written in the literature about successfully managing conflict, often addressing concepts such as creating a cooperative environment, avoiding unnecessary conflict, selecting communication techniques, dealing with an angry employee, reducing the scale of the conflict, managing emotions and situations, recognizing the role of arbitration, and so on. Generally, these are the required starting points before attempting a professional resolution. What are the critical elements for effectively managing conflict?
Generating respect requires both parties to avoid creating additional conflict through the poor selection of words, body language, tones of voice, and so on where one or both parties feel demeaned or disrespected. Often, “conflict creating” behavior is unrecognized by those displaying it and as such, a careful self-analysis is required to avoid it from happening. Key to any analysis is an introspective look at our inner feelings and how these are projected. A successful conflict resolution begins with leaders knowing themselves well and how they will respond (not react) to emotional situations.
Dr. Stephen Di Biase is co-Founder and Managing Director for VentureForge, LLC. He is also the Founder and Owner of Premier Insights, LLC, an innovation practices consultancy, and co-Founder and Managing Director of VentureForge, LLC, an early stage accelerator working with startups to define their value proposition and describe it in quantitative financial terms and investors to locate well understood and assessed investments. He is a member of Cornerstone Angels, a Chicago-based angel investor group, served as the Chief Executive Officer of Laser Application Technologies, a high technology company delivering technology to the food service industry, is a Vistage Chair currently mentors CEOs of technology based startups, and is a past adjunct professor at Benedictine University.
Previously, Dr. Di Biase served as the Chief Scientific Officer of Elevance Renewable Sciences a high technology specialty chemicals company and as the Senior Vice President and Chief Scientific Officer for the Research Development and Engineering Department at Diversey Inc. In these roles, he was responsible for technology innovation, research, development efforts, and technical resource management. Dr. Di Biase also served as interim Senior Vice President of Human Resources.
Before joining JohnsonDiversey, Dr. Di Biase spent 26 years with the Lubrizol Corporation, where he held a variety of leadership positions, including general management roles and Vice President – Research, Development and Engineering and Vice President – Emulsified Products. He is a 1974 graduate of St. John Fisher College with a Bachelor of Science degree in chemistry and earning a doctorate degree in chemistry from Pennsylvania State University in 1978.
Dr. Di Biase is also a past member of the Board of Trustees for the Mt. Union College and the Industrial Research Institute and sits on the Science Advisory Board for The Pennsylvania State University. He has served as chairman of The Lubrizol Foundation Scholarship Committee, Chairman of the Northeastern Ohio Section of the American Chemical Society, Board member of the Cleveland Area Research Directors (CARD) and in The Boy Scouts of America where he served in a variety of posts. Dr. Di Biase has been honored by The Pennsylvania State University College of Science with its 2007 Distinguished Alumni Award. He is also guest lecturer on entrepreneurship and innovation at the Kellogg School of Business at Northwestern University.