As a leader, it is important to minimize conflict within the department and to help your constituents or colleagues correct misconceptions about issues or perceptions that negatively impact credibility. Working towards congruency and cohesiveness will lessen any tension and help create a harmonious environment for the department; implementing face saving strategies with those whom are within your circle of influence is important.
Face saving is not about making excuses for someone’s behaviour or for words expressed. It is about presenting the offender with an opportunity to apologize for or clarify inappropriate behaviour or outcomes without losing managements' or colleagues’ respect. Face saving is about Impression Management.
Impression Management is a concept every leader should integrate into their daily leadership practice. To manage the impression others have of you, you must maintain congruency between your espoused image and your perceived image. If these two images differ, a source of negative conflict germinates in the gap, and pushes your credibility into question. In short, practicing what you preach enhances credibility, builds relationships, and reduces conflict.
It is important, as leader, to immediately address behaviour incongruent with departmental norms. Quickly and honestly addressing the offence (not the person) enhances credibility, establishes trust, and builds alliances within the department. Moreover, when one enhances her credibility, establishes trust, and build alliances among those with whom she interacts, communication portals open that may have been previously closed or unseen. Open communication portals minimize opportunities for conflict and provide an avenue for impression management.
Conflict will always be amongst us, this we know. However, the value is not managing or resolving conflict; the true value manifests when we, as leaders, create an opportunity for others to save face when they have said or have done something that is not in alignment with their core beliefs.
©2012 Penny M. Stein
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