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The Effect of Conflict Management Style Approaches and Leadership Style on Employee Performance

Conflict management within organizations has evolved from being seen primarily as a deterrent to stability to being recognized as a catalyst for enhancing organizational effectiveness when managed appropriately. Recent studies underscore that strategic conflict management, integrated with tailored leadership approaches, can significantly impact employee performance and organizational innovation (Alper, Tjosvold, & Law, 2011). This body of research highlights that problem-solving approaches in conflict management, often associated with transformational leadership, not only contribute positively to perceptions of leadership effectiveness but also enhance team performance (Barbuto et al., 2007). In contrast, competitive conflict management approaches, which typically align with transactional leadership, have varied impacts on organizational dynamics, influencing everything from team morale to overall innovation (Zhao et al., 2019).

Transformational leaders are characterized by their ability to inspire and motivate, fostering an environment that encourages open communication and mutual respect. This leadership style is closely associated with collaborative conflict management approaches, which emphasize finding win-win solutions that benefit all parties involved. Research by Bass and Riggio (2006) shows that transformational leaders enhance team creativity and performance by promoting understanding and alignment toward organizational goals. Furthermore, these leaders are adept at turning conflict situations into opportunities for team building and innovation, thus fostering a supportive work environment (Avolio, Walumbwa, & Weber, 2009).

In contrast, transactional leadership focuses on clear structures, rewards, and penalties and aligns more with competitive conflict management styles. This approach involves assertive tactics that prioritize organizational goals, often at the expense of individual team members' interests. Such strategies can lead to quick decision-making and efficient operational performance but may inhibit creative problem-solving and reduce trust within the team (Judge & Piccolo, 2004). Moreover, competitive conflict management under transactional leadership can effectively resolve conflicts where a clear, decisive action is needed but may lead to decreased employee satisfaction and morale over time (Bass & Bass, 2008).

The interaction between leadership styles and conflict management approaches significantly affects organizational and employee performance. Combining transformational leadership with a collaborative conflict management style generally leads to higher levels of employee engagement, innovation, and performance (Bass & Riggio, 2006). This synergy not only encourages a positive organizational culture that values and promotes effective problem-solving and continuous improvement but also enhances the emotional and psychological well-being of employees (Wang, Oh, Courtright, & Colbert, 2011).

On the other hand, the combination of transactional leadership and competitive conflict management can result in efficient but potentially less collaborative environments. While suitable in situations requiring fast, directive actions, this combination may not foster long-term organizational learning and growth, potentially stifling open communication and reducing opportunities for creative solutions (Bass & Bass, 2008).

The effectiveness of leadership in enhancing employee performance is intricately linked to their chosen approach to conflict management. Leaders who effectively manage conflict through collaborative approaches can significantly enhance team dynamics and performance. Conversely, those employing more competitive strategies may achieve immediate goals but at the potential cost of long-term employee engagement and innovation.

Future research should explore the nuances of how different conflict management strategies interact with various leadership styles across different organizational contexts to fully understand their impact on employee performance.


Gerry Savage

Tel: (717) 514-1523


  • Bass, B. M., & Bass, R. (2008). The Bass handbook of leadership: Theory, research, and managerial applications. Free Press.

  • Bass, B. M., & Riggio, R. E. (2006). Transformational leadership (2nd ed.). Lawrence Erlbaum Associates Publishers.

  • Judge, T. A., & Piccolo, R. F. (2004). Transformational and transactional leadership: A meta-analytic test of their relative validity. Journal of Applied Psychology, 89(5), 755-768.

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