Dealing with Conflict

Conflict occurs when individuals or groups are not obtaining what they need or want and are seeking their own self-interest. Sometimes the individual is not aware of the need and unconsciously starts to act out. Other times, the individual is very aware of what he or she wants and actively works at achieving the goal.

About conflict:

Beginnings of conflict:

Conflict indicators:

Conflict is destructive when it:

Conflict is constructive when it:

Techniques for avoiding and/or resolving (board-superintendent) conflict:

Causes of board-superintendent conflict:

How does a school board cause conflict with a superintendent?

How does a superintendent cause conflict with a school board?

Elements of a strong board-superintendent partnerships

Courageous decision controversies:

The controversies usually involve:

Resolving Conflict

Searching for the causes of conflict is essential to be successful in resolving the conflict. Nine possible causes of conflict include:

Reaching Consensus through Collaboration

Groups often collaborate closely in order to reach consensus or agreement. The ability to use collaboration requires the recognition of and respect for everyone's ideas, opinions, and suggestions. Consensus requires that each participant must agree on the point being discussed before it becomes a part of the decision. Not every point will meet with everyone's complete approval. Unanimity is not the goal. The goal is to have individuals accept a point of view based on logic. When individuals can understand and accept the logic of a differing point of view, you must assume you have reached consensus.

Follow these guidelines for reaching consensus:

  • Avoid arguing over individual ranking or position. Present a position as logically as possible.
  • Avoid "win-lose" statements. Discard the notion that someone must win.
  • Avoid changing of minds only in order to avoid conflict and to achieve harmony.
  • Avoid majority voting, averaging, bargaining, or coin flipping. These do not lead to consensus. Treat differences of opinion as indicative of incomplete sharing of relevant information, keep asking questions.
  • Keep the attitude that holding different views is both natural and healthy to a group.
  • View initial agreement as suspect. Explore the reasons underlying apparent agreement and make sure that members have willingly agreed.

In this Module:

Governance and Management Leadership and Teams Professional Development Leadership Responsibilities

In the Toolkit:

Toolkit Home Page Why Change? Why Technology?
Planning Policy Curriculum and Assessment
Community Involvement Facility Planning Funding
Prof'l and Ldrship Development