Conflict resolution & the influence of leadership

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Posted by APM on 24th May 2012

The presentation at this Oxford Chapter event covered some of the major conflict styles and approaches to resolution. It also looked at aspects of leadership and introduced a personality-based model of conflict resolution.

How conflict is addressed and resolution reached, is affected by the behavioural dynamics between the parties involved. In categorical terms, there are broadly two sets of behaviours in situations involving conflict: one that is confrontational (hard approach) and the other more interactive and facilitative (soft approach). We all recognise the behavioural styles stemming from each approach, and the reality is usually made up of a bit from both camps.

One major intrinsic aspect to conflict is leadership. Leadership necessitates the ability to manage and resolve conflict well – whilst also managing one’s own personality and watching over the effectiveness of the group, through working with the personality of others.

Most of us acquire ways in which to deal with tensions caused by conflict through the rough road of experience, and along the way we collect strategies that work for us. Sometimes when they do work, the connection is not strong enough for it to last and the experience is therefore not sustained, and some learning is lost.

Utilising and understanding a formal model may help to increase the chances of us making use of the experiences behind it in new circumstances. Using it in the context of managing conflict, it should therefore enable us to work on new options / ways in which to deal with conflict other than the range of sub-optimal ways that we continue to use, prior to familiarity with the model.

This session addressed the influence of leadership on the process of resolving conflict using:

  • Principled approach to negotiation - a set of methods promoted by the Harvard Business School where the process provides a platform that encourages a focus on interests, not positions, and on being hard on the problem and not the people involved.
  • Lumina leader, a personality-based model.

Ayleen Wisudha provides facilitated decision making support. She is also involved in the facilitation of project planning and project feedback sessions, and is a work performance coach.

As well as running her own business, she works part time as deputy course leader of the MSc course in business psychology at the University of Westminster where she has been instrumental in the development of a new MSc in Psychology for Project Management. She is responsible for the students’ professional development programme and short course programmes run through the Business Psychology Centre.


Ayleen is a past Chair of APM’s Women in Project Management SIG. She remains active in providing coaching support for women who work in project management. She also sees young people in her local area, providing coaching opportunities to help support their personal development. She is a School Governor and has just stepped down from a four-year stint as Chair of a ladies and girls cricket club.

Ayleen believes that organisations benefit from investing in the personal as well as the professional development of individuals, and that only through this can it effectively and consistently draw upon the collective strength of individuals that make up the project teams within the organisation.

Each individual is an exception to the rule


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