Humans lean into conflict naturally. It is how this conflict is resolved which defines the future of the situation. Even in a professional setting, conflict can arise as people have differing opinions and personalities. When taking on the role of a leader, it is important that you have solid conflict management skills in order to successfully manage a group of people.
As a leader, you must learn appropriate and effective ways to manage conflict. One method of conflict resolution from the American Management Association cites five steps to conflict resolution for individuals and groups as follows:
- Identify the source of the conflict: as it sounds, it is important to determine the cause of conflict.
- Look beyond the incident: Sometimes what people vocalize as the issue may not be the root of the problem, and it is crucial to determine if there are any underlying issues.
- Request solutions: During mediation, listen actively. Hear what each party is saying and encourage them to come up with solutions to the problems that work for both of them.
- Identify solutions both disputants can support: If you simply suggest solutions that aren’t customized to each party’s needs, odds are it won’t work in the long run. On top of creating solutions both parties can agree on, it is important to recognize any fundamental errors in the system. For example, you might need to restructure departmental issues.
- Agreement: Both parties need to agree on the solution, and verbally commit to implementing it.
There are also an assortment of strategies you can take to resolve, and prevent, conflict in the workplace. With the inevitability of conflict, it is important to see conflict as an opportunity for improvement, rather than something to be scared of. Forbes suggests some strategies that can help you if your conflict management skills are something to be desired. First, you must encourage your employees to be communicative and build an environment that is conducive to feedback. Second, be proactive about addressing conflict, without assuming too much. You want to address real conflict before it becomes an issue, but don’t want to draw attention to something that may not be a real issue. Third, communicate and address conflict in person, rather than through chats or emails online. Finally, listen to all sides of the story, and address feelings and emotions before diving into solutions.
Conflict resolution is a crucial part of life, and these skills in the workplace can even translate into your daily life. To be a successful leader, facilitating conflict must be in your reservoir of skills.
I was reading recently of some of the legendary high school coaches of all time. Great stories of men and women who have dedicated their lives for the opportunity and responsibility to influence a young person for life through the power of coaching!
Pretty strong stuff!!
It made me think about the coaches, or influencers as I like to call them, I had while I was attending Syosset High School in Syosset, NY. I played three sports – football, basketball, baseball – and I was good in all three. Our teams enjoyed considerable success and the football team my senior year went undefeated and was ranked #1 in New York.
My coaches were Joel Goldberg, Len Mintz, and John Miller. Back then we referred to them as “Mr.” not “Coach” as is the trend today. They were talented and dedicated and they certainly had their own style of coaching. All three ingrained lessons in me that have shaped my life.
I am thankful to them for the role they played as coaches to my teammates and me during those very important years of our life. There are many other coaches both in youth sports and the college ranks that I could mention as well, but today we focus on these three individuals who were my coaches at Syosset High School.
Here are the Syosset High School coaches that I played for as a varsity athlete:
- Joel Goldberg, baseball coach. Affectionately known as the “Bear,” Mr. Goldberg was my baseball coach at Syosset High School. We had a very successful baseball program during the three years I played varsity baseball. My senior year we advanced to the finals for the North Shore championship game. “Bear” was a player’s coach and I was grateful that we didn’t have long practices during those very cold March practices. We played three games a week so there really wasn’t much time for practice. “Bear” relied heavily on his seniors for leadership and those seniors always came through in leading by example. “Bear” was not a big disciplinarian but I do remember one incident in which he called me out following a poor pitching performance. We were on a Florida Spring break trip the beginning of my senior year season. I gave up a bunch of runs in one of the games. As the bus pulled away from the field, “Bear” stood up and in front of the entire team began his post-game talk with, “well we learned one thing today, Matt Kupec is hittable!” Ouch, I was a returning All-County player as a junior, a leader of team, and would go on and have a great senior year. But, that day “Bear” – who rarely got angry -used the right touch to get me straight and help motivate me to play up to my ability in what became a special season..
- Len Mintz, high basketball coach. I played for Mr. Mintz on the 9th grade football team as well. I do have one great story that I’m not sure he would even remember. We were getting ready to play a pre-season Saturday morning scrimmage but the day before in practice I had hurt my wrist in a tackling drill. I was in a great deal of pain that Saturday morning. I went to Mr. Mintz in the locker room and told him my wrist was really hurting and I was thinking that I would sit out the scrimmage. I’ll never forget his response. Mintz pierced at me with a look I’ll never forget and promptly said “okay, we’ll throw short passes then.” Not the reply I expected! So I played the scrimmage and completed 2 of 3 short passes! It turned out that my wrist was broken and I missed the entire season due to the wrist injury! But I have always told that story about Mr. Mintz’ with pride and that” I completed 67% of my passes with a broken wrist”. One of my favorite stories ever!
Mr. Mintz became the Syosset High School basketball head coach my junior year and we knew we were getting a talented and hard-working coach who would teach us sound basketball and he would work us like crazy. I never ran so much in my life. Mr. Mintz’ favorite conditioning drill was the dreaded gassers! You run baseline to baseline, then back to the foul line and back, and then to half court and back, and then to the nearest foul line and back. Tiring just even telling you what gassers were! But we ran them, over and over again. But, Mr. Mintz really taught us the fundamentals and we were a favorite to win the Nassau County Championship. We really strengthened our schedule and played some of the best competition on Long Island and that is a lesson I will never forget. You need to play against the best to be the best! A freak upset in the quarterfinals kept us from our dream but Mr. Mintz did a great job coaching us.
- John Miller, high football coach. Syosset hadn’t had much football success before Mr. Miller arrived as head coach in 1967. Miller built an incredible program and the stretch from 1968-1974 turned out to be Syosset’s best winning period ever. My brother Chris and I quarterbacked four of those years. We were both prep All-Americans but we were surrounded with incredible talent in players like Kevin Mannix, Jack Miraval, Dave and Ken Bailey, Rich Maake, Tom Parnon, Mike Rosetti, Don Perfall, John Seldon, Len Ridini, and so many others.
Mr. Miller instituted a rather unique pre-game ceremony before games. He would introduce each starting player in the wrestling room where we came together before taking the field. It was a very cool pre-game ritual. I will never forget the emotion, the intensity, and the noise level when we did these introductions before the Farmingdale games my junior and senior years. I have played in major college games in front of crowds of 70,000 when there was incredible excitement surrounding those games but the camaraderie, the feeling of team coupled with the incredible noise from this pre-game ritual created the most electric atmosphere I have ever experienced.
These three men were great coaches – influencers – for my teammates and me. We had an incredible successful run with these programs at Syosset High School and a major reason was due to the leadership, commitment and dedication of these men who influenced our lives in so many ways. On behalf of all my teammates, I say a heartfelt thank you!!
About the Author (mattkupec.org)
Matt Kupec is a fundraising professional with 32 years of significant higher education development experience. He has directed three major university fundraising campaigns and nearly $5 billion has been raised under his leadership. He has led the fundraising programs at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, Hofstra University, Moffitt Cancer Center & Research Institute and HelpMeSee, a New York City based non-profit.
Throughout history, people have tried to answer the question: what makes a great leader? Arguments arose from this question, addressing the distinction between nature vs. nurture, and whether a person is born with leadership abilities, or learns them from their environment. There are many theories of leadership and what makes a great leader. Most of said theories are based in analyzing historical leaders such as Abraham Lincoln, Gandhi, or Adolf Hitler. When this analysis becomes a theory based on inborn traits of one man compared to another, that is the Great Man Theory of leadership.
The Great Man Theory was created at a time where men, and primarily military men, were studied as subjects for what makes a successful leader. One man who had a strong influence on shaping this theory was Thomas Carlyle. In the 19th century, Carlyle suggested that history is made up of a string of biographies of the great men to impact change in our world; a notion that supported the Great Man Theory. Two proponents that are key in the Great Man Theory are first, that great men have inborn tendencies towards leadership, and secondarily, that great men rise to a position of leadership when the world needs them most. Sound a lot like a superhero, doesn’t it? These shared and innate characteristics include charisma, military prowess, intelligence, political skill, and so on. Based off the notion, “great men are born, not made”, the Great Man Theory aligns with Greek Scholar Plato’s argument that people’s characteristics are innate, not learned.
The Other Side
The opposing side typically argues in favor of nurture, or learned behavior. However, there are many schools of thought that suggest a hybrid where both nature and nurture play a role in determining an individual’s personality and characteristics (a notion widely accepted across scholarship). It is popular to argue against the Great Man Theory, proposing that leaders are molded by their environment. The counterargument gains traction because it leaves more room for anyone to become a leader, rather than a select few. The theory also almost entirely discounted women as having potential for leadership.
Today, it is more widely accepted that leaders have both some aspect of innate characteristics that lend themselves towards leadership, as well as an upbringing that sculpt them into the role more definitively. Each person may not have “what it takes” to be a leader, however modern notions of leadership break the traditional mold, arguing in favor that leadership comes in many different shapes and forms. You don’t have to be born with charisma and political prowess, nor do you have to be born under circumstances that would prompt you to rise from the ashes and lead a desperate group of people to safety. Leadership can appear in small facets of life, day in and day out.
Highly successful leader in securing philanthropy and private equity
- Fundraising professional with 30+ years of senior management experience at major organizations
- Significant track record of increasing philanthropic support
- Built best-in-class, nationally recognized operations
- Nearly $5 billion has been raised under his leadership
Who is Matt Kupec?
Matt Kupec has led major fundraising operations at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, Hofstra University (Hempstead, NY), the Moffitt Cancer Center & Research Institute (Tampa, FL) and NY-based non-profit HelpMeSee.
The key to Matt’s success in leading the teams of these very major and complex organizations is that he fully understands the importance of collaboration and collegiately in building a team fundraising approach in an organization.
During his tenure leading the fundraising teams at these important organizations, Matt Kupec has managed thousands of team and staff members. Leadership is about getting the individuals to join together under a shared vision, with a common set of goals and objectives, creating an office environment of collegiately and collaboration, and pushing all to reach new heights. This has been the trademark of Matt’s successful leadership.
The creation of the “total team fundraising approach” has manifested itself in the record breaking results that have been recorded. At UNC, cash flow grew from $62M to $300M during Matt Kupec’s tenure. UNC was the recipient of 12 Council for the Support & Advancement of Education (CASE) Outstanding Fundraising Performance awards, the most received of any University during that time. At Moffitt, fundraising skyrocketed from $13 million to $37 million in one year, a remarkable 250% increase in just the first twelve months!
Matt has always been a leader throughout his life. Born and raised in Syosset, NY on Long Island as the middle child of seven children of Bill and Helen Kupec, Matt, enjoyed a prolific high school career as an outstanding student-athlete. A three sport star – football, basketball and baseball – Matt Kupec earned many honors and awards including prep All-American in football where he led his Syosset HS football squad to an undefeated season and #1 ranking as the top High School team in the entire New York state.
With many full scholarship offers to choose from following his successful football career, Matt chose to accept a full scholarship to attend the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill because of its high academic standing and strong football program.
At UNC, Matt Kupecwas the starting quarterback for four years and led the Tar Heels to bowl games in three of the four seasons. He was named Most Valuable Player in the Liberty and Gator Bowls.
Matt set 19 season and career passing records while a UNC quarterback. In fact, two of those records – most consecutive games throwing a touchdown pass and most wins as a starting quarterback – remain standing nearly 40 years after his playing career. Matt Kupec earned a reputation for being a “winner” during his UNC career.
All of these experiences – large family, three-sport athlete who was the pitcher in baseball, the point guard in basketball and the quarterback in football – have contributed to Matt’s passion for building the team approach to fundraising. One of Matt’s favorite expressions deals with leadership and the importance of building team, “if you want to go fast, go alone. But if you want to go far, we must go together.”
Those words have inspired and motivated countless number of staff members who have worked for Matt Kupec and helped to bring the results that have positively impacted the lives of thousands of students, faculty and patients across this country to work for a better society.