5 Top Tips for Managing Conflict

One of the skills of a leader is the ability to deal with conflict. This may be conflict within a team, conflict between the leader and a team member, or conflict between the leader and several team members!

Conflict is extremely likely in the early stages of a team's development when team members are establishing themselves, and during periods of change when team members may be experiencing uncertainty at being asked to adapt to new systems or procedures which they find initially difficult. Other occasions include when the team is operating in a high intensity environment - pressure to meet a deadline, dealing with a crisis situation or working to overcome a major setback.

When conflict does occur it needs to be dealt with head on. If it is left unchecked it risks undermining team cohesion and creating divisions. This can result in team members efforts becoming more aligned to 'self preservation' than towards the team goal. In the worst scenario it could cause irreparable damage to a team forcing individual members to leave, or in the worst case the disbandment of the entire team.

Conflict can happen at any time, come from areas least expected and erupt without warning. The effective leader needs to remain alert for signs of conflict and when conflicts arise employ the following tips:

1. Defuse
If a conflict is getting heated, immediately defuse the frustration and anger.

2. Focus
Focus on thinking on the problem/cause at hand.

3. Pick
Pick the problem/cause apart using the salami-slicing tactic to deconstruct the conflict to all of its parts.

4. Compromise
Pushing compromise allows all involved parties to walk away with something rather than nothing.

5. Defer
Some conflicts just won’t get solved at this exact moment - move them out for another day.

Sharing Insights : Ripley Davenport

I recently caught up with British adventurer Ripley Davenport to learn more about his forthcoming journey to complete the longest solo and unassisted walk in history - a 2,750 km’s walk across the Eastern Mongolian Steppe, Gobi Desert and the Altai Mountain Range.

How have you prepared yourself for the immense physical challenge of walking ?

I have been conditioning my body to what I expect to experience in Mongolia - pulling a laden trailer weighing over 250kg for over 2,500 kilometres. The two types of training I have been doing are endurance and strength training. Endurance training is to strengthen my physical capacity, and decrease the potential for injury, by specifically exercising the body with activities similar to what I will experience in Mongolia. My custom-designed training programme combines long hours of pulling heavy tires and intense interval burst workouts.

For strength training I concentrate on my core strength and flexibility by combining 1 to 3 hour dynamic exercises to strengthen and develop my feet, legs, shoulders and back. The exercises are designed to strengthen those muscles which will be stressed by pulling my trailer. Yoga, stretching, aerobic classes, and mountain biking through muddy forest tracks compliment my intensive programme.

How will you keep yourself going day after day?

Personal motivation will be critical to my success. Without it, I’m not going anywhere. Motivation will keep me moving forward. Motivation will keep me focused on my goal. I'm sure part of my motivation has something to do with walking towards a distant horizon. I have had these urges since I was a young lad. An exploratory urge. I want to feel what it's like to discover wild lands on foot, to walk through endless landscapes and to camp away from the normal tourist areas. I want to know and understand the environment better and discover my own personal limits.

Having completed expeditions to the Namib and Karakum deserts, Peak Lenin, and Polar Regions, I have had to learn how to combat extreme fatigue whilst remaining focused and positive each day. I do this by remaining 100% clear about what I want to achieve. I know what my goals are, and stay focused on achieving them. Of course, actions speak louder than words!

It’s also important for me to only focus on what I can control, rather than what I can’t. I try and avoid wasting time and energy focusing on the things that frustrate me rather than focusing on the things that give me pleasure. I suppose the brutal weather would be an example. It’s just a matter of accepting, ignoring it all and keep walking.

How do you avoid becoming overwhelmed by the sheer scale of your journey?

I try not to think about the overall distance. It’s easier to comprehend when you divide any great distance up into small goals, and in my case into daily goals, even hourly goals. Walking 40 kilometres a day is an achievable and comprehendible goal. My focus will be on completing each day and each day only. Each day is the beginning and when a day is complete, it will be put behind me and everything will be reset.

What is the biggest challenge you expect to face?

The biggest challenge I think will be the isolation and separation from my family. Having young children will really magnify the whole situation. My previous expeditions have been different. I had no family, no young children. This will be a major challenge for me, but looking at the bigger picture, I will have some fantastic experiences and stories to share with my family. I plan to take a few small personal effects to remind me of my family and friends back home that love me, support me and want me home safely.

Other challenges will be the weather. Temperature fluctuations and severe icy winds will hamper my walk, but as long as I continue to walk, pay attention to detail, and use the superb equipment I have, I will be fine. Mongolia is also infamous for its sand storms which can reduce visibility and last for several days. There’s nothing I can really do about that except deal with it, move forward and stay calm. I may even encounter wolves, especially on the Mongolian Steppe, and plan to carry some pepper spray just in case!

How have you kept yourself focused on turning your dream into a reality?

I like the quote, The only things in life you regret are the chances you never took. Without following your dreams, you simply have no way to define your success. I’ve defined what I want to accomplish and I continually prepare myself mentally to achieve it. This mental preparation doesn’t happen overnight and you certainly can’t buy it at your local sports store.

I dedicate an average of 3 hours a week to mental and emotional training. More as the expedition start date draws closer. My focus is on performance enhancement through various techniques such as relaxation, tension and stress management (having kid’s helps with this), visualisation and focusing skills.

How can people follow your progress once you begin?

I am being tracked by satellite and Google Maps™, which you can see on my website at This will show you my position, my progress, the weather conditions I am experiencing, overall distance covered, daily distance completed, my morale level, and other notes of interest. You can even embed the map onto you own personal website or blog to keep track of me!

I will also be sending blogs, images, film and reports live from Mongolia throughout my journey direct to my website which can also be connected through Facebook, twitter and LinkedIn. Check me out at - it’s a great way to experience an expedition from the comfort of your own home, office or classroom!


To the End of the Earth

This is the gripping true story of how fellow polar explorer Tom Avery led three men, one woman and sixteen dogs to the North Pole in just under thirty-seven days. In doing so they broke the world record and solve a 100 year old polar mystery - how did Arctic pioneer Robert Peary travel 413 km in just 37 days with only dogs and wooden sleds as his transportation? Tom and his team set themselves against the elements to recreate Peary's journey, risking their lives to break the record and rewrite history. This is a fascinating read about personal leadership, self motivation and overcoming setbacks.

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South Pole Dome No More

When the South Pole Dome was erected in 1975 at the South Pole it was expected to last 10 years. But earlier this month its deconstruction was complete and after 35 years the iconic research station is no more.

The deconstruction was in itself, a remarkable feat of team work and leadership. The plan to disassemble the dome was basically to reverse the order of construction - taking it apart from the top down and peel it like an orange. Time and weather were obvious obstacles.

The project started in mid-November by clearing out the dome and moving snow away from outside perimeter for the heavy equipment to operate. Temperatures need to remain above - 40°F for the cranes and mechanical lifts to work properly - not always guaranteed, even in Antarctica’s summer.

Team leader Brandon 'Shaggy' Neahusan said, "This is a handpicked crew that I've worked with for several seasons now, and as this is a very high-profile project, it's my responsibility to not let my crew feel any of that pressure and just allow them to do their jobs."


Sharing Insights : Ruari Chisholm

Ruari Chisholm, the Managing Director of High Performance Development, has been involved in helping organisations and individuals unlock their full potential.

I recently caught up with him to hear his views on high performance:

You have been helping organisations and individuals unlock their full potential for many years. Have you identified any common ingredients amongst high performing individuals?

Most certainly Sean. They all posses a passion and a pride inw hat they are doing. They are the ones who constantly look at how to improve and instead of saying 'that will do' they say 'is that the very best I can do'. For the high performers it is about wanting to do and not having to do. This subtle shift in mindset has a powerful effect on thier performance. But they are also very good at recognising their own strengths and building upon those rather trying to develop areas of weakness they will never be good at. For that they work closely with people who fill thier weak areas.

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