3. Leadership Qualities and Handling Conflict

Studies show that effective team leaders share a set of characteristics which allow them to manage their teams successfully. In the video below, notice how these qualities can improve team dynamics, especially when conflict occurs.

Teamwork and Conflict

(To read along click here.)

Qualities of an Effective Leader

Effective teamwork is an important part of promoting a healthy workplace and preventing adverse events. Patients expect, even assume, that their healthcare teams are functioning well. But that’s not always the case.

Managing a healthcare team successfully can be challenging. Here are some of the ways effective team leaders can facilitate and coordinate the activities of team members:

  • Embrace the leadership role, asking for help when they need it
  • Constantly monitor the team, setting priorities and making decisions as they go
  • Make the most of all resources in order to maximize team performance
  • Help resolve team conflicts
  • Delegate tasks so that the workload is balanced for everyone
  • Check in regularly with team members on an individual basis
  • Great leaders empower their team members to speak freely and ask questions
  • Arrange training opportunities
  • Promote a positive group culture

Positive Work Environment

Providing a positive work environment is one way that an organization and its leaders can reduce conflict between coworkers. According to the Registered Nurses’ Association of Ontario (RNAO), a positive work environment has1:

  • Leaders who have a clear sense of direction, who are accessible to employees and foster a sense of friendliness and trust
  • A work culture that promotes respect, celebrates successes, and deals with mistakes as opportunities to learn
  • Team members who behave ethically
  • Employees who feel appreciated, and are given opportunities to grow professionally
  • An understanding that employees have commitments outside of work that need to be respected

Resolving Conflicts

Conflict resolution is frequently one of the most challenging aspects of team leadership. Here are some of the ways team members can help manage conflicts:

  • Listen with empathy and respect
  • Allow others to express their concerns
  • Look deeper, beyond what is being said, to understand the real meaning
  • Be self-reflective and accountable—acknowledge if you are at fault
  • Express emotions in a positive way—to encourage understanding and conflict resolution
  • Prioritize—try to separate what is important and what gets in the way of understanding
  • Learn from difficult behaviours—use what you have observed to see if outcomes have been affected
  • Negotiate and collaborate to resolve the issue


Self-Reflection: Leadership Qualities


1Registered Nurses’ Association of Ontario (2012). Managing and Mitigating Conflict in Health-care Teams. Toronto, Canada: Registered Nurses’ Association of Ontario.

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