Leading Through Conflict With Credibility
- Thomas R. HughesThomas R. HughesNorthern Arizona University College of Education
- and Frank D. DavidsonFrank D. DavidsonNorthern Arizona University College of Education
Even though conflict is increasingly finding its way into school settings, there is evidence that school leaders do not view themselves as being adequately equipped to meet the growing challenges. Training on short-term approaches to dealing with immediate issues may be available to practitioners through professional development offerings, but there is more involved in successfully and sustainably dealing with conflict than getting through a tense moment. School leaders need to be able to understand the causes and complexities—as well as navigate time elements—associated with ongoing conflict that can take place at the personal as well as organizational levels. Beyond understanding these concepts, administrators themselves need to increase the capacity of their staff and their organizations to assist in their development.
In addition to learning how to recognize patterns and underlying causes advancing adversity, administrators would do well to invest in long-term conflict diminishing approaches such as building trust and improving interpersonal and organizational capacity as ways to increase credibility within and outside of the school itself. Finding people who can think critically and work adaptively to solve problems could prove to be a real advantage for educational leaders who strive to reduce the stress of the workplace and create a more collegial climate within the schools they serve. Building trust and the ability to “come through” capably for others even in tough situations increases the credibility of leaders. Leading through conflict with this credibility in turn helps to sustain a positive climate in schools.