3 June 2020

Research pick: Teamwork at the global level - "Tactics of handling interpersonal conflict through emotional intelligence"

A team leader’s emotional intelligence can make all the difference when it comes to conflict resolution. Writing in the International Journal of Information Systems and Change Management, a team from China and Pakistan discuss case studies of five conflict-handling styles in handling interpersonal conflicts. They undertook a statistical analysis of 213 questionnaires completed by 213 of 300 team leaders surveyed. The focus of the work being in what the researchers refer to as a non-western context adds useful insight to the literature in this area.

Many organisations operate on a global scale and within those organisations, employees are considered an asset with team players especially valued. Of course, with team players, one usually needs team leaders to allow working groups to function most effectively, although there are example of non-heirarchical working groups. One of the benefits of team working is that each player brings different working styles and skills to the team and offers alternative perspectives to those that might arise from a top-down approach to working.

Unfortunately, that also brings with it an increased opportunity for interpersonal conflict where one team member’s creative perspective does not coincide with the approach of another player in terms of their own attitudes and methods. This can be a positive characteristic of the team, allowing debate to flourish and the optimal solution to a problem to perhaps emerge in the end. However, unchecked conflict might escalate naturally and lead to complex problems that might never be resolved without leadership intervention.

The team’s findings can help guide managers and team leaders in handling interpersonal conflict and particularly conflicts that arise as team members from across the globe are relocated to centres, often in different countries where the organisation is based.

Tanveer, Y., Tariq, A., Akram, U. and Bilal, M. (2019) ‘Tactics of handling interpersonal conflict through emotional intelligence’, Int. J. Information Systems and Change Management, Vol. 11, Nos. 3/4, pp.211–227.

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