The unavoidability of disagreements in domains such as the family, work, and the society suggests the need for developing mechanisms that can help to address conflicts in these areas. Some of the strategies that have been applied to manage conflicts that result from change implementation processes include collaboration, compromising, competing, avoidance, and accommodation. This paper argues that the execution of change theories developed by Kurt Lewin and Everett Rogers and conflict management theories, including Deutsch’s classic hypothesis and conglomerate conflict behavioral (CCB) framework, can be resourceful in dealing with disagreements in the nursing industry. However, in addition to examining how a nurse leader acts as a change agent, this study demonstrates my ability to handle conflicts in a manner that enhances or interferes with effective leadership in the healthcare setting.
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Nursing organizations bring together people from diverse backgrounds. Therefore, it is vital for such organizations to adopt change theories that transform them into entities that can resolve emerging conflicts to guarantee smooth operations. Lewin and Rogers developed two important change hypotheses that can be applied to the nursing practice. Lewin’s theory is the most common and arguably the oldest (Tjosvold, Wong, & Chen, 2014). This model constitutes three principal stages, namely, unfreezing, moving, and refreezing.
Lewin’s framework consists of driving forces, which encompass change agents whose main purpose is to orient nurses and other employees to the proposed change. However, it also recognizes the existence of resistant forces whereby nurses and other employees may oppose the suggested change. Therefore, the theory works in nursing settings when resistant forces are weaker in comparison to the driving components. Rogers’ change theory is a modification of Lewin’s framework. It bears five stages of change execution instead of the three mentioned by Lewin. According to Tjosvold et al. (2014), these steps include “awareness, interest, evaluation, implementation, and adoption” (p. 551). This theory is widely applied to address change issues in long-term nursing projects in the UK.
Conflict Management Theories
Examples of conflict management premises include Deutsch’s classic theory and the CCB model (Elgoibar, Euwema, & Munduate, 2017). Deutsch’s classic theory discusses the degree to which competition and cooperation provide insights into the outcomes of engaging in issues that can result in beneficial or counterproductive conflicts (Coleman, Deutsch, & Marcus, 2014). This theory holds that parties in any form of disagreement are mutually supportive. In this case, the extent to which a leader perceives different mutual or opposing goals determines the outcomes of conflict resolution endeavors. In the nursing field, positive interdependence fosters openness, improves cooperation, and enhances integrative conflict resolution (Coleman et al., 2014). However, counterproductive interdependence fails to promote these aspects, thus leading to distributive bargaining, which yields a win-lose scenario.
The CCB theory argues that nurses react to conflicts in multifaceted ways that portray multiple behavioral components. This school of thought holds that these elements manifest themselves sequentially or even simultaneously to facilitate the realization of effective conflict management (Spaho, 2013). Nurses exhibit multiple behaviors towards conflicts. Indeed, disagreements involve situations whereby individuals depict divergent motives concerning a particular issue. Consequently, according to Elgoibar et al. (2017), the CCB theory calls for the utilization of different conflict resolution mechanisms, including applying force, accommodating one another, keep away from clashes, and compromising, depending on the degree of complexity of the underlying mixed-motive situations.
A Leader as a Change Agent
Transforming nursing organizations to entities that can effectively deal with disagreements requires the execution of change and conflict management theories using a nurse leader as a change agent. This leader is encouraged to be impartial and proactive when handling instances of conflicts. As change agents, leaders help healthcare facilities to achieve their goal of protecting, promoting, and optimizing health through the prevention of illnesses and injuries (Wilson et al., 2013). The nurse leader ensures that any change executed does not compromise patients and other stakeholders’ interests (Wilson et al., 2013). Change agents encourage health facilities to undergo continuous transformations to overcome challenges that hinder the capacity to support, protect, and optimize health.
Enhancing or Hindering Effective Leadership in the Healthcare Environment
As a nurse leader, I am expected to act as the vision career for my healthcare institution. Encouraging constructive conflicts has been resourceful because my junior and even senior colleagues have learned the importance of accommodating each other’s differences. However, by engaging in opposing discussions, especially about mechanisms for accomplishing particular outcomes, opportunities for enhancing leadership effectiveness in a healthcare facility emerges. In this case, the outcomes of decisions I make following my engagement in constructive conflicts are accommodative of all key stakeholders’ interests. However, my move to engage in destructive conflicts creates an uncomfortable healthcare environment. In some situations, escalated conflicts have the implication of compelling people to quit (Spaho, 2013). Organizations that experience destructive conflicts also encounter challenges of lower morale among workers and reduced productivity levels. Hence, as a nurse leader, I should focus on eliminating destructive conflicts and encouraging constructive disagreements in the effort to build a higher performing organization, which is an outcome of effective leadership in the healthcare sector.
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Conflicts emerge, especially when organizations embark on implementing changes, which may appear to favor one group of employees, as opposed to another. Any strategy that emphasizes leaving conflicts unaddressed is inappropriate. Conflicts produce negative implications on the performance of organizations in the nursing sector. The ability to handle conflicts improves one’s effectiveness in nursing leadership. As a result, when they occur, a leader can focus on managing them in a manner that does not disrupt operations in a particular medical facility.
Coleman, P., Deutsch, M., & Marcus, E. (2014). The handbook of conflict resolution. Theory and practice (3rd ed.). San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass.
Elgoibar, P., Euwema, M., & Munduate, L. (2017). Conflict management. Web.
Spaho, K. (2013). Organizational communication and conflict management. Journal of Contemporary Management Issues, 18(1), 103-118.
Tjosvold, D., Wong, A., & Chen, N. (2014). Constructively managing conflicts in organizations. Annual Review of Organizational Psychology and Organizational Behavior, 1(1), 545–568
Wilson, L., Orff, S., Gerry, T., Shirley, B., Tabor, D., Caiazzo K., & Rouleau, D. (2013). Evolution of innovative roles: The clinical nurse leader. Journal of Nursing Management, 21(1), 175-181.